Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are expected to high record highs this year, as the war in Ukraine rages on and countries scramble to replace Russian gas. Europe has stepped up its consumption of coal, the most polluting of all fossil fuels, to conserve precious reserves of existing natural gas.
While the return to fossil fuels doesn’t bode well for climate change efforts in the immediate future, a report from the International Energy Agency is encouraging. The experts say the current state of affairs is likely to accelerate the global transition to renewable technologies: wind and solar power, and electric vehicles.
The soaring prices of fossil fuels have generated a new-found global enthusiasm and investment in wind turbines, solar panels, nuclear power plants, hydrogen fuels, electric heat pumps and electric vehicles.
The United States Congress has approved more than US$370 billion in spending on renewable energy technologies under the recent Inflation Reduction Act. Japan is pursuing a new ‘green transformation’ program that will help fund nuclear power, hydrogen and other low-emissions technologies. China, India and South Korea have all increased national targets for renewable and nuclear power.
The clock is ticking on global coal use, and it’s expected to go into rapid decline over the next few years as policies by national governments settle in and infrastructure starts to take shape. Natural gas is tipped to follow suit and plateau within a decade, and oil should be slowing its roll by the mid-2030s.
Global investment is set to skyrocket, with investment in clean energy predicted to jump from US$1.3 trillion in 2022 to more than $2 trillion annually by 2030. While the numbers are impressive, the International Energy Agency wants more, stating at least US$4 trillion by 2030 was required to meet the ambitious targets set out in the Paris Agreement.