The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
New Report Highlights the Trends Threatening Our Climate Future
Sales of electric cars are surging and the world is generating more and more power from renewable sources, but it is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to stop the global climate crisis, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA issued its annual World Energy Outlook, an 810-page report that forecasts global energy trends to 2040. However, high up in the foreword the IEA makes it clear that it is not in the business of making predictions.
"The [World Energy Outlook] analyzes the choices that will shape our energy use, our environment and our wellbeing. It is not, and has never been, a forecast of where the energy world will end up," the report reads.
While the report did increase its projections for cleaner energy sources, it also warned that policies on the books will allow greenhouse gas emissions to rise for the next 20 years, especially since our demand for energy from fossil fuels continues to rise, as CNBC reported.
"Without new policies in place, the world will miss its climate goals by a very large margin," said Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director, as The New York Times reported.
The IEA noted the companies and investors can make a big difference, but combating the climate crisis really requires a shift in policy.
"Governments must take the lead ... the greatest capacity to shape our energy destiny lies with governments," said the IEA, as the AP reported.
Here are three troubling takeaways from the report:
1. Growing Demand for SUVs Is Erasing Electric Vehicle Growth
The demand for SUVs continues to climb in the U.S., China, India and Europe. Since they are harder to run on electricity than smaller cars, their continued growth could negate all gains made by electric cars, according to the World Energy Outlook, as the AP reported.
Even as the electric vehicle market climbs due to incentives in China and California and increased battery efficiency, the report questions if car makers will have the incentive to find a way to make SUVs electric and to convince consumers to buy them. After all, the growth in the SUV market shows no signs of abating. In 2000, just 18 percent of cars sold worldwide were SUVs. Today that number is 42 percent according to the report, as The New York Times reported.
2. We're Losing Momentum in Energy Efficiency
Continued investment in coal, rollbacks of environmental regulations, and steps backwards in energy efficiency like Trump's reversal of an improved light bulb efficiency standard made 2018 one of the slowest years in recently in energy efficiency growth. In fact, energy efficiency worldwide only improved a paltry 1.2 percent last year.
"Two out of three buildings worldwide today are being built without efficiency codes and standards," said Birol, as The New York Times reported. "And those buildings can last for five to six decades, so focusing on efficiency is very important."
3. We Need Africa to Go Green
The World Energy Outlook noted that Africa is poised to urbanize at breakneck speed in the next few decades, and how it decides to fuel that growth will have a tremendous impact on the world. If it decides to grow the way China and India have then greenhouse gas emissions will rise considerably, as The New York Times reported.
However, Africa's natural resources leave it well positioned to be a leader in clean energy. Africa has the potential for 40 percent of the world's solar energy but still has less than one percent of the world's solar panels, according to the The New York Times.
- The IEA Comes up Short on Climate (Again) - EcoWatch ›
- The Hazards of EIA Energy Forecasts - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Nestlé cannot claim that its Ice Mountain bottled water brand is an essential public service, according to Michigan's second highest court, which delivered a legal blow to the food and beverage giant in a unanimous decision.
A number of supermarkets across the country have voluntarily issued a recall on sushi, salads and spring rolls distributed by Fuji Food Products due to a possible listeria contamination, as CBS News reported.
If you read a lot of news about the climate crisis, you probably have encountered lots of numbers: We can save hundreds of millions of people from poverty by 2050 by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, but policies currently in place put us on track for a more than three degree increase; sea levels could rise three feet by 2100 if emissions aren't reduced.
Poverty and violence in Central America are major factors driving migration to the United States. But there's another force that's often overlooked: climate change.
Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.
"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."
Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.
"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."
So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.
"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."
So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.
Reporting credit: Deborah Jian Lee / ChavoBart Digital Media.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
- Trump Admin Ignored Its Own Data Linking Migrant Crisis to Climate ... ›
- How Climate Change Is Driving Emigration From Central America ... ›
Chris Pratt was called out on social media by Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa after Pratt posted an image "low key flexing" with a single-use plastic water bottle.