Global economic growth threatening climate change progress, report warns
The expansion in the global economy is undermining the world's efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement, a new report from global consultancy Capgemini has warned.
Demand for global energy rose by 2.1% in 2017, compared with 0.9% the previous year, the World Energy Markets Observatory report shows.
This growth has been triggered by global economic growth, which has made it difficult to keep the global temperature rise below 2C in 2050, a goal set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Fossil fuels accounted for 72% of the rise in global energy demand, and played a major role in the 1.4% rise in CO2 emissions in 2017. This came after three years of global emissions remaining unchanged.
Capgemini highlights a need for a continued rise in carbon prices across the world. There have been encouraging signs in this area recently, particularly in the EU, where carbon allocations are up from €5/tonne in early 2017 to €20/tonne in September 2018.
“In 2017, a stronger economy meant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rose for the first time in several years; as a result of the 2050 climate change objectives may well not be met,” said Capgemini’s energy and utilities senior advisor Colette Lewiner.
“The EU has taken some measures, but they are insufficient to reach a meaningful carbon price, of around €55/tonne. For this to be achieved, carbon floor prices would be needed at either regional or national levels.”
Peak demand for fossil fuels?
The study highlights that renewable energy and storage prices have continued to plummet in the past year. Solar PV has seen a 20% cost reduction over the past 12 months, and alongside onshore wind, is becoming cost-competitive with traditional electricity generation resources in many countries.
Battery costs are following a similar downward trend, the report notes. But limitations in technology, intermittency management and huge implementation costs mean that a 100% renewable generation mix at country or state level is still some way off, it states.
Global carbon emissions will rise to a new record level in 2018, making the chances of reaching a target to keep temperature increases to 1.5 or 2C “weaker and weaker every year, every month,” according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
But experts predict that worldwide demand for fossil fuels set to peak in the 2020s. This is because the global transition to clean energy and low-carbon technologies is set to be much quicker than previously expected.