The world’s leading independent energy authority, the International Energy Agency (IEA), has warned energy ministers from the world’s largest economies and greenhouse gas emitters that governments are falling badly behind on transitioning to low-carbon energy, pushing the world toward the brink of catastrophic climate change. The judgment was given at a key meeting of energy ministers in London on Wednesday, according to The Guardian.
“The current state of affairs is unacceptable precisely because we have a responsibility and a golden opportunity to act,” Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, has said. “Energy-related CO2 emissions are at historic highs, and under current policies, we estimate that energy use and CO2 emissions would increase by a third by 2020, nearly doubling by 2050. This would be likely to send global temperatures at least 6C higher within this century.”
Scientists have warned that if the planet warms as much as 6C by the end of the century, agriculture would be wiped out in many regions and significant portions of the earth would become uninhabitable. Aside from that, rising sea levels would cause mass migration, overpopulating the habitable portions.
The report is a bit of an “intervention” for many governments, as some new technologies governments have been relying on for future emissions reductions are not even in use yet. For instance, carbon capture and storage from coal-fired power plants has been in development for years with very little to show.
According to the IEA, the world needs to generate a minimum of 28% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and at least 47% by 2035. Currently, renewables only make up 16% of the global electricity supply.
This meeting is an ideal time for energy ministers to get together and discuss how to pick up the pace, since time is clearly running short and their current efforts just aren’t enough. Whether it’s electric vehicles, carbon capture and storage, renewable energy, or entirely new technologies they want to implement, there isn’t much time left for thumb-twiddling.