IEA: Low-carbon spending must ‘more than double’ to meet climate goals

(CarbonBrief, 14 May 2019) Investment in low-carbon energy sources, such as wind, solar and nuclear, must more than double by 2030 if the world is to meet its Paris Agreement climate goals, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

This is one of the many insights to emerge from the agency’s latest World Energy Investment report, which is published today. Besides the trend in low-carbon spending, the analysis shows that overall energy investment is also not keeping up with consumption trends. [Carbon Brief also covered the IEA’s reports in 2017 and 2018.]

Here, Carbon Brief has picked out key charts to illustrate these trends, as well as some of the IEA’s findings on everything from electric car sales to the spread of air conditioning units and battery storage.

Missing sustainability targets

Overall, the research found that global investment in all forms of energy supply and demand stabilised in 2018 at around $1.85tn, after three years of decline. Within that total, investment in low-carbon energy was also stable at around $620bn, as the chart below shows.

Over the past year, spending on renewables for transport and heat fell slightly, while nuclear and energy efficiency expenditures remained roughly the same. Investment in electricity grids, which are vital for a clean energy transition, has been falling for the past two years.

The IEA suggests this stagnation is a cause for concern if the world is to live up to the sustainable scenarios it has laid out. The agency has developed its Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) as a benchmark for measuring progress towards a future in which the Paris Agreement targets are met and air pollution is slashed.

As it stands, low-carbon investment will have to increase two-and-a-half times by 2030 to meet this goal (chart on the left, above). Its share of total spending would have to rise from 35% to 65% (above right).

External link

CarbonBrief, 14 May 2019: IEA: Low-carbon spending must ‘more than double’ to meet climate goals