Sunak is under additional stress due to his reversal on net zero policies following a warning from the IEA.
Rishi Sunak is under increased scrutiny for changing his stance on net zero goals, following a warning from the leader of the global energy organization that countries who weaken their environmentally-friendly policies could exacerbate the climate emergency and harm their own financial well-being.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) praised the increasing speed of the global shift towards cleaner energy in its yearly World Energy Outlook report. The report also predicts, for the first time, that there will be a peak in demand for oil, gas, and coal before the end of this decade.
However, the report urged governments to avoid hindering progress by diminishing climate policies, cautioning that events like wildfires and flooding show that no nation is immune.
Sunak’s recent announcement caused concern among both environmental activists and the automotive industry. The measures he outlined, which included pushing back the deadline for phasing out new petrol and diesel cars to 2030, were met with criticism. The prime minister, who has promised to put an end to the “war on motorists,” has now set a new goal of 2035.
Nonetheless, the United Kingdom’s goal for 2030 remains part of the International Energy Agency’s report which outlines necessary policies that major economies must adopt and enforce in order to mitigate global warming.
The IEA’s director, Dr. Fatih Birol, informed the Guardian that although the reversal would not impact their international initiatives, nations that backtrack on their climate commitments would not only damage the environment, but also their own economies.
He stated that governments have the right to make their own policy decisions. However, disregarding issues such as climate change and global citizenship, I believe that the world is moving towards a time of producing clean energy technology. Governments are competing with one another to be at the forefront of creating employment opportunities in modern industries.
Countries that are not actively promoting clean energy may be at a disadvantage in terms of their competitiveness in future industries.
Ed Miliband, the shadow energy secretary, stated: “This report provides more proof that Rishi Sunak’s abandonment of a sustainable energy future is detrimental to Britain and will result in increased bills and decreased energy stability.”
Avoiding taking action on climate change will convey the wrong message to the global community, especially when our potential to lead by example can demonstrate that transitioning to clean energy can result in reduced expenses for households, greater energy self-sufficiency for our nation, increased employment opportunities, and safeguarding the well-being of future generations.
The IEA presented various scenarios that could impact the predicted rise in global temperature by 2100.
According to the current policies, it forecasted a 2.4 degree Celsius increase from pre-industrial levels, leading to “extensive and severe” consequences.
The IEA stated that by implementing actions like tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling investment in energy efficiency, the rise in temperature can be limited to 1.5C as outlined in the 2015 Paris agreement.
Its mid-range scenario, under which the world heats up by 1.7C, is based on policies that have been announced but not yet enacted, including the UK’s now-defunct 2030 pledge on petrol and diesel cars.
Birol expressed similar concerns to those raised by top leaders in the automotive and energy industries regarding Sunak’s policy reversal.
The speaker emphasized that it is important to have a consistent strategic direction for investors, as changing it abruptly could cause uncertainty and hesitation due to the significant amount of capital at stake.
Birol emphasized weather occurrences, such as the recent European wildfires and UK flooding due to Storm Babet, as a reason to intensify endeavors towards decreasing carbon emissions.
Birol stated that the current conflicts in the Middle East and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are indicative of the increasing violence in these regions. He expressed doubt about the safety and security of relying on oil and gas as sources of energy, especially when taking into account the record-breaking temperatures caused by the use of fossil fuels.
The International Energy Agency (IEA), located in Paris, expressed a generally positive outlook on the possibility of a quicker worldwide shift towards renewable energy. They forecasted that for the first time, demand for fossil fuels will reach its peak this year and maintained that achieving net zero emissions by 2050 is feasible.
Birol predicted that by 2030, almost half of all cars sold would be electric, a significant increase from the one in 25 ratio seen just two years prior. Additionally, he noted that 70% of energy was derived from fossil fuels a decade ago, but that number is expected to decrease to 40% by 2030.
However, reaching a net zero goal will necessitate a substantial rise in investment.
The International Energy Agency predicts that $2.8 trillion (equivalent to £2.3 billion) will be allocated towards energy investments this year, with approximately $1.8 trillion specifically dedicated to clean energy and infrastructure.
According to the 2.4C forecast, the investment amount would reach $3.2 trillion by 2030. However, the mid-range projection would require an investment of $3.8 trillion. In order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, it would cost $4.7 trillion annually by 2030.
A representative from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero stated: “The United Kingdom is a top performer in renewable energy, having drawn in £200 billion in eco-friendly investments since 2010. It is projected that an additional £100 billion will be invested by 2030, fueling the growth of Britain and creating up to 480,000 job opportunities.”
“We also continue to back domestic oil and gas, which supports over 200,000 skilled jobs, develops supply chains and helps build the engineering expertise needed to support our energy security and end reliance on foreign regimes.
“We are leading the G7 countries in reducing emissions, and we recognize the significance of oil and gas in our journey towards achieving net zero. These industries will help facilitate the growth of low-carbon technologies, like carbon capture, and contribute billions to the UK economy.”