Emissions set to surge to record levels in 2023 as governments spend less on clean energy: IEA

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Unabated fossil fuel projects are those that do not deploy technology to absorb the carbon pollution they produce.
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  • Only 2 percent of $16 trillion pumped into economic stability and recovery spent on clean energy measures

  • International Energy Agency says current government plans would increase spending on clean energy to $350, 75 percent short of its $1 trillion Sustainable Recovery Plan

Governments worldwide are injecting huge amounts of money to stabilize and rebuilding their economies but only about 2 percent of this spending is going into clean energy measures, according to the International Energy Agency.

The money is well short of what is needed to achieve international goals. The shortfalls are especially pronounced in emerging and developing economies. And if the current spending continue, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are set to climb to record levels in 2023 and continue rising in the following years.

This would leave the world far from the pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050 that the IEA set out in its recent Global Roadmap to Net Zero, a statement issued by the IEA said.

These findings come from the new Sustainable Recovery Tracker that the IEA launched today to help policymakers assess how far recovery plans are moving the needle on climate.

The new online tool is a contribution to the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Environment, Climate and Energy in Naples, which takes place on 22 and 23 July under the Presidency of Italy.

The Tracker monitors government spending allocated to sustainable recoveries and then estimates how much this spending boosts overall clean energy investment and to what degree this affects the trajectory of global CO2 emissions. The Tracker considers over 800 national sustainable recovery policies in its analysis, which are publicly available on the IEA website.
“Since the Covid-19 crisis erupted, many governments may have talked about the importance of building back better for a cleaner future, but many of them are yet to put their money where their mouth is. Despite increased climate ambitions, the amount of economic recovery funds being spent on clean energy is just a small sliver of the total,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director.
Governments have mobilized $16 trillion in fiscal support throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, most of it focused on emergency financial relief for households and firms. Only 2% of the total is earmarked for clean energy transitions.
In the early phases of the pandemic, the IEA released the Sustainable Recovery Plan, which recommended $1 trillion of spending globally on clean energy measures that could feature prominently in recovery plans. According to the Plan – developed in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund – this spending would boost global economic growth, create millions of jobs and put the world on track to meet the Paris Agreement goals.
According to the Tracker, all the key sectors highlighted in the IEA Sustainable Recovery Plan are receiving inadequate attention from policymakers. Current government plans would only increase total public and private spending on clean energy to around $350 billion a year by 2023 – only 35 percent of what is envisaged in the Plan.
The Tracker shows the stark geographic disparities that are emerging in clean energy investment. The majority of funds are being mobilized in advanced economies, which are nearing 60 percent of the investment levels envisaged in the Sustainable Recovery Plan. Emerging and developing economies, many of which have limited fiscal leeway, have so far mobilized only about 20% of the recommended spending levels.
“Not only is clean energy investment still far from what’s needed to put the world on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, it’s not even enough to prevent global emissions from surging to a new record,” Dr Birol said.

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