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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Most technologies necessary to aggressively tackle climate change are not yet ready on a mass scale, and the coronavirus is likely to delay development.

Driving the news: That finding is from a report from the International Energy Agency released Thursday, ahead of a meeting of top government officials next week to discuss clean-energy innovation and how to incorporate it into economic recovery plans.

The big picture: Three-quarters of the cumulative emissions reductions needed to put the world on a sustainable path come from technologies that are in early stages of development, the IEA found. The agency is calling on governments to keep and eventually increase research and development budgets and incorporate additional provisions into whatever policies they’re passing to recover from pandemic-induced recessions.

How it works: The IEA, an intergovernmental research organization, said technologies exist today to reach goals of net-zero carbon emissions within 30 years, but the scale of development is too slow. The fastest examples of technologies maturing are things like LED lights and lithium ion batteries, which took 10 to 30 years to reach mass scale.

  • The IEA studied the readiness of some 400 technologies and put them into four main categories, including: electrification of heating and transport, carbon capture, low-carbon hydrogen and bioenergy, energy derived from organic material.
  • While wind and solar in electricity are growing rapidly, technologies to clean up other sectors, like manufacturing and transport, are lagging.

What they’re saying: “When we look at those, we come up with the conclusion that in the absence of much faster clean energy innovation, achieving our international climate goals will be all but impossible,” Fatih Birol, International Energy Agency executive director, told Axios Wednesday in an interview.

The intrigue: In one model achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, the IEA found an average of two hydrogen-based steel plants would have to begin operating every month for the next 30 years. Today, such technology only exists at the prototype stage.

Go deeper: Coronavirus is causing a huge drop off in energy investment

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Oct 9, 2020 - Economy & Business

Oil giant Total invests in hydrogen truck startup Hyzon Motors

Image courtesy of Hyzon Motors

The huge multinational oil-and-gas company Total SE is investing in the hydrogen fuel cell truck and bus startup Hyzon Motors, the companies announced this morning.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of increasing interest in hydrogen-powered heavy vehicles amid moves by startups and legacy automakers alike. It also shows how European-headquartered oil giants are boosting their alternative energy portfolios, even though hydrocarbons remain their dominant business lines.

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars Olympic finals

Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

Simone Biles will not compete in the individual vault or uneven bars finals at the Tokyo Olympics, USA Gymnastics announced Friday.

Why it matters: USA Gymnastics said Biles, who previously withdrew from the individual all-around and team finals to prioritize her mental health, will continue to be evaluated to determine if she'll compete in the balance beam or floor exercise events.

1 hour ago - Sports

American Katie Ledecky wins Olympic gold in women's 800m freestyle

USA's Katie Ledecky reacts after taking gold in the final of the women's 800m freestyle race. Photo: Odd Anderson/AFP via Getty Images

American superstar swimmer Katie Ledecky grabbed her second gold medal of this year's Olympic Games, winning the women's 800-meter freestyle race Saturday in Tokyo.

Driving the news: Ledecky, who holds the world record in the 800m freestyle, is considered one of the best women swimmers of all time. Saturday's final marks her third straight Olympic gold in the event.