IEA: Governments must triple low-carbon spending

Public spending on low-carbon technology must be tripled if we are to stay within global warming limits, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned.

The group’s flagship energy technology report found that clean-energy progress is “falling well short” of the levels needed to limit the global increase in temperatures to 2C.

It argues that the UN negotiations in Paris are unlikely to yield a sufficiently ambitious agreement and that policy makers must take the initiative by ramping up clean-energy spending.

IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven said: “We are setting ourselves environmental and energy access targets that rely on better technologies.

“Today’s annual government spending on energy research and development is estimated to be $17 billion. Tripling this level, as we recommend, requires governments and the private sector to work closely together and shift their focus to low-carbon technologies.”

The calls for more funding follow similar demands made by forecasting expert James Woudhuysen at Sustainability Live. Woudhuysen claimed that “spending one pound in every thousand on innovation, as we do now, is a recipe for disaster.” 

Set for success

The IEA report argues that recent success stories, such as the rapid growth of solar PV and the inauguration of the world’s first large-scale power station equipped with CCS technology, indicate that there is significant potential for change.

The IEA called for more support for existing technologies which are still under-deployed such as energy efficiency measures, as well as funding for new innovations.

“The shale gas and shale oil boom of the last few years was virtually unthinkable at the dawn of this century,” said van der Hoeven. “If we only stick to the beaten path of today, we will miss the game-changers of tomorrow.”

A report authored by Nicholas Stern, released on Monday, also warned that the world was on track to warm by more than 2C, based on the current emissions pledges of the world’s worst polluters.

Read the executive summary of the IEA report here.

Brad Allen

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