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CO2 emissions will hit record levels in 2023, IEA says


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Only a small chunk of governments’ recovery spending in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been allocated to clean energy measures, according to the International Energy Agency, with the Paris-based organization forecasting that carbon dioxide emissions will hit record levels in 2023.

Published on Tuesday, the IEA’s analysis notes that, as of the second quarter of this year, the world’s governments had set aside roughly $380 billion for “energy-related sustainable recovery measures.” This represents approximately 2% of recovery spending, it said. 

In a statement issued alongside its analysis, the IEA laid out a stark picture of just how much work needed to be done in order for climate related targets to be met.

“The sums of money, both public and private, being mobilised worldwide by recovery plans fall well short of what is needed to reach international climate goals,” it said. 

These shortfalls were “particularly pronounced in emerging and developing economies, many of which face particular financing challenges,” it added. 

Looking ahead, the Paris-based organization estimated that, under current spending plans, the planet’s carbon dioxide emissions would be on course to hit record levels in 2023 and continue to grow in the ensuing years. There was, its analysis claimed, “no clear peak in sight.”

Commenting on the findings, Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said: “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,” he added.

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The IEA’s analysis and projections are based on its Sustainable Recovery Tracker, which was launched on Tuesday and “monitors government spending allocated to sustainable recoveries.”

The tracker takes this information and then uses it to estimate “how much this spending boosts overall clean energy investment and to what degree this affects the trajectory of global CO2 emissions.”

For his part, Birol said governments needed to “increase spending and policy action rapidly to meet the commitments they made in Paris in 2015 — including the vital provision of financing by advanced economies to the developing world.

“But they must then go even further,” he added, “by leading clean energy investment and deployment to much greater heights beyond the recovery period in order to shift the world onto a pathway to net-zero emissions by 2050, which is narrow but still achievable — if we act now.”

Birol’s reference to the Paris Agreement is notable but unsurprising. The shadow of the accord, which aims to “limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels,” looms large over discussions about net-zero…



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