An updated road map for combating climate change pours cold water on the idea that unproven technologies can play a major role in averting disaster.
Today, the International Energy Agency (IEA) updated its road map for the energy sector to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It doubles down on the need to swiftly switch to renewable energy while minimizing the use of technologies that are still largely in demonstration and prototype phase today, including carbon capture and hydrogen fuels.
The IEA, initially created to safeguard the world’s oil supply, debuted its landmark road map in 2021 with a stark forecast for fossil fuels: calling for no more investment in new oil, gas, and coal projects. It laid out steps every country on Earth needs to take in order to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord, which seeks to limit global warming to roughly 1.5 degrees Celsius by reaching net-zero emissions. But the planet is still heating up, reaching 1.2 degrees Celsius — triggering more extreme weather and climate disasters and pushing the IEA to revise its global road map to address new realities.
The biggest difference in this new report is that emerging technologies that have gotten a lot of hype as high-tech fixes to climate change now play a significantly smaller role than expected in 2021. Those technologies, which include hydrogen fuel cells for heavy vehicles and devices that filter CO2 emissions from smokestacks or ambient air, now account for 35 percent of emissions reductions rather than nearly 50 percent.
Why? They just haven’t lived up to the hype, the report says pretty plainly. [Continue reading…]