None of the world’s major economies are currently on track to decarbonise their energy sectors under 1.5C warming scenarios, despite record levels of clean energy deployment and increasingly ambitious targets for phasing out fossil fuel use.
That’s the stark warning from the influential Climate Action Tracker initiative, which today published a new report on the progress of 16 leading economies in decarbonising their energy sectors.
The report measures the performance of Australia, Brazil, Chile, China, the EU27, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Turkey, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States against 1.5C for individual countries. compatible benchmarks for their shares of coal, gas and renewables in the grid.
It calculates that in order to meet the global climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement, industrialized countries must phase out coal-fired power by 2030 and phase out unabated gas use by 2035. Meanwhile, developing economies must phase out unabated fossil fuels from their grids. until 2040.
There is still considerable debate about the exact mix of renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants that should replace emission-free fossil fuel plants. But the Climate Action Tracker claims that countries should achieve more than 80 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2035, and 90 to 100 percent renewable electricity supply by 2050.
The report concludes that “none of the countries assessed is fully on track for this shift in power”, although it also points out that “there are some positive signs” as governments work to accelerate the decarbonisation of the energy sector.
For example, the UK is the only country analyzed that is on track to meet one of the Climate Action Tracker’s benchmarks, given that it is set to close its last coal-fired power plant by 2025.
Similarly, the UK and US now have electricity sector decarbonisation targets set for 2035, which should see gas plants phased out, although the report warns that further action is needed to ensure the targets are met.
In addition, the EU, Germany, Chile and South Africa are considered to be “on the right track” with their plans to phase out coal-fired electricity, while Germany and Chile are described as “leading the way” in terms of renewable energy deployment .
However, the report also notes that “none of the countries analyzed has an explicit plan to phase out fossil gas, and that the fossil gas pipeline is now larger than the coal pipeline”.
While the coal pipeline is now shrinking everywhere except China, the volume of new Chinese coal-fired plants could exceed emissions targets unless there is a drastic reduction in the use of coal-fired plants.
Furthermore, the report argues that CCS will play a minimal role in enabling the decarbonisation of the electricity sector. “[COP28 hosts] The UAE has called for phasing out fossil fuels,” the report states. “Our analysis suggests that CCS will play a minimal role in fossil gas power generation (and not coal at all). As the next chair of the COP, the UAE can make a significant impact on climate ambitions by securing a global agreement to phase out fossil gas by 2040 worldwide and lead by example by doing so at home by 2035.”
The report’s lead author, Neil Grant, said: “This month the G20 agreed a global renewable energy target. Our global renewable energy benchmark, mapped to a national level, highlights the real opportunities for the expansion of wind and solar. However, governments still seem to be hedging their bets and procrastinating on phasing out fossil fuels.
“Our work also shows that CCS has no role in the decarbonised energy sector. The future of fossil fuels in the transition to 1.5C compatible energy sector – reduced or un-reduced – is the same: a future of rapid decline,” he said. Grant.
Hanna Fekete of Climate Action Tracker’s partner organization, the NewClimate Institute, said the ability of developing economies to meet energy sector decarbonisation targets will depend on the extent to which they have access to finance.
“While there are a handful of energy transition partnerships or JETPs that are positive, they are not enough,” she said. “Countries like Morocco, which today are heavily dependent on coal-based energy, have huge renewable energy potential, but international support is needed to unlock this.”
The report was published on the same day that We Mean Business, a coalition of companies, launched a new campaign under the slogan “Fossil to Clean”, which calls on companies to step up calls for a phase-out of undiminished fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, the Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) announced today that Colombia and Panama have become the latest governments to commit to halting the development of new coal plants and phasing out existing plants in line with the 1.5C target.
This step is particularly important as Colombia is currently the sixth largest exporter of coal in the world. The government said it would now work with other governments in the PPCA to develop a plan to phase out coal-fired power generation while protecting mining communities.
Omar Andres Camacho, Colombia’s Minister of Energy and Mining, said: “As coal energy is on its way to becoming a thing of the past, we are working to reduce the economy’s dependence on coal. We are diversifying exports and expanding renewable energy production. energy and planning for a just transition of affected communities. Thanks to the technical and financial support of PPCA members, we will make further progress on coal phasing out at the COP.”
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