Issue 2/2019

Energy Outlook under fire

Tim Altegör, 23 Apr 19
While renewables continued to grow in 2018 according to one report, another major source of energy data is being criticised for downplaying the necessities of climate action.

The global installed capacity of renewable energy grew by around 8 percent in 2018, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has reported. The development is in line with the expansion seen in recent years. The lion’s share of the newly installed capacity is comprised of wind and solar, which together make up around half of the overall figure. The other half consists of hydro.

Although renewables are now growing faster than fossil power plants, in order to complete the transition to a low-carbon energy supply more states and regions need to start phasing out fossil fuels, Irena has warned. The agency calculates that with appropriate political action, clean energy could meet 86 percent of global electricity demand by 2050.

Prominent voices urge IEA to act

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has been criticised for the scenarios outlined in its annual World Energy Renewables continue to grow, Energy Outlook under fire Outlook. In a joint letter, a number of leading figures attacked the report for not being clear enough on the measures required for effective climate action. The signatories, which include former UN climate chief Christina Figueres and the directors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Change Research Johan Rockstrom and Ottmar Edenhofer expressed concerns over the “New Policies Scenario” outlining the status quo, claiming the name was confusing as this scenario would lead to dangerous warming.

Moreover, the alternative “Sustainable Development Scenario” is criticised for not being sufficiently aligned to an outcome in which there is at least a probability of keeping warming below 1.5C. In response to the letter, IEA director Fatih Birol defended the scenarios, claiming that the agency highlights the disconnect between global emissions and the trajectory needed to fight global warming at every opportunity.