Developing Economies Energy Transition

Massive investment in renewable energy in the developing economies, which are set to produce most of the global emissions in the coming years and decades, will be necessary to achieve global climate goals, according to Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). 

“If our aim is to reach net zero emissions, if our aim is to address the climate change globally… there is no way without hugely accelerating the clean energy investment in emerging countries we can reach this goal. No way whatsoever,” Birol said during an online meeting of the World Economic Forum on Wednesday, as carried by Reuters.

Investments in clean energy need to nearly triple in order to kickstart a true energy transition in developing economies, the IEA’s Birol said. 

“When I look at the numbers, I don’t see a big jump in the appetite of investors,” Birol noted.

“Our energy and climate future increasingly hinges on the decisions made in emerging market and developing economies,” he wrote in an article last week, part of The Davos Agenda for the World Economic Forum. 

“These areas currently account for around two-thirds of global carbon emissions – with one-third occurring in China and another third arising from other markets – and would represent the largest source of future emissions growth if insufficient action is taken to transform their energy systems,” the IEA’s chief added.  

According to Birol, if the world were to meet the accelerated emissions reduction goals of the IEA Sustainable Development Scenario, the share of clean energy investment needs to rise to around two-thirds of total energy investment by 2030. Of this, almost 60 percent would be needed in emerging economies, he said.  

Countries dependent on oil revenues for much of their budgets will become increasingly vulnerable to problems caused by the global energy transition, Birol told Bloomberg in an interview earlier this month. 

Birol and the IEA are focused on the energy transition as the agency is preparing to publish in May this year a new special report, ‘The World’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050,’ which, the IEA says, will be the “world’s first comprehensive roadmap to net-zero emissions by 2050.”    


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