Mar 1, 2024 - Energy & Environment

The world's energy transition is highly uneven, new report finds

Illustration of earth rolling off a seesawing set of solar panels

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Newly-released data shows a bifurcated world when it comes to energy transition and carbon emissions.

Why it matters: Climate-friendly technology is moving much more slowly in developing economies — often the same places emissions and energy demand are rising fast.

What's new: The International Energy Agency just dropped reports on global carbon dioxide and "clean" energy trends in 2023.

  • Energy-related emissions growth slowed to 1.1% last year. Yet that's still the wrong direction when Paris Agreement targets envision steep cuts.
  • Emissions in advanced economies (OECD nations and a few others) fell 4.5%, "a record decline outside of a recessionary period."
  • But CO2 in China rose significantly, and India, Indonesia and other markets also saw increases.

How it works: Rising deployment of wind, solar, electric vehicles, nuclear and other climate-friendly tech is holding down the pace of emissions growth.

  • "Since 2019, clean energy growth has outpaced growth in fossil fuels by a ratio of two-to-one," IEA finds.
  • But that uptake is highly uneven, with the vast majority occurring in advanced economies and China, "with the rest of the world continuing to lag well behind."

Stunning stats: "In 2023, China and advanced economies accounted for 90% of capacity additions for wind and solar PV, and more than 95% of global sales of electric cars," the agency's report states.

The big picture: IEA's goal isn't to 'tsk-tsk' economies where people are striving for better living standards, but is instead highlighting capital gaps.

  • "We need far greater efforts to enable emerging and developing economies to ramp up clean energy investment," IEA boss Fatih Birol said in a statement.

The bottom line: Global climate goals envision both faster cuts in rich nations and far more progress in emerging economies.

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