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International collaboration critical to accelerate transition to sustainable energy future

sustainable energy future
September 21, 2022

by nfdeklerk 0 comment

International collaboration critical to accelerate transition to sustainable energy future

Intergovernmental organisation the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its ‘Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022’ says international collaboration will be critical to successfully transition to sustainability, given the global scale and fast pace of change that is required.

“Action by governments and businesses individually is necessary, but not sufficient. Well-targeted international collaboration can make low-carbon transitions faster, less difficult and lower cost.

“By aligning and coordinating actions internationally, countries and businesses can accelerate innovation, create stronger signals for investment and larger economies of scale, and establish level playing fields, where needed, to ensure that competition is a driver of the transition and not a brake,” it says.

“International assistance, finance and the sharing of best practice can support widespread adoption of effective policies and available technologies. International infrastructure can enable cross-border flows of clean energy. Without international collaboration, the transition to net-zero global emissions could be delayed by decades,” the IEA emphasises.

The IEA Breakthrough Agenda Report 2022 focuses on actions in five sectors – power, hydrogen, road transport, steel and agriculture, which account for more than 50% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, and for which the signatories have so far agreed on goals under the Breakthrough Agenda.

“Clean technologies and sustainable solutions are not yet the most affordable or accessible options in these sectors, except in the power sector, and even in the power sector, this is not yet the case in all countries.

“Meeting the Breakthrough Agenda goals in these sectors will require concerted action from governments, businesses and civil society, while doing so could enable all countries to make faster progress, greatly increasing the chances of avoiding more dangerous levels of climate change and meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” the IEA says.

The power sector accounts for about 13 Gt of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), or 23%, of total emissions, which has risen by about 10% since 2010 and needs to fall by more than 50% by 2030.

Investment will need to grow 25% each year, reaching $2-trillion a year by 2030.

Hydrogen production and use, meanwhile, accounts for about 0.9 Gt of CO2e, or 1.5% of total emissions.

Renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production currently accounts for less than 1% of total production. Targets and commitments to use low-carbon and renewable hydrogen are equivalent to 3% of current total hydrogen demand. Currently, 15% of ammonia and 28% of methanol is internationally traded, the IEA report indicates.

“Governments and companies should coordinate internationally to increase commitments for the use of low-carbon and renewable hydrogen in sectors where hydrogen is currently used, supported by specific policies and purchase agreements to collectively send a strong demand signal and mobilise investment in production.

“In new priority application sectors, countries should share learning to accelerate early deployment. This should be done in a manner that ensures a level playing field in international trade,” the IEA recommends.

Further, the road transport sector accounts for about 6 Gt of CO2e, or 10% of total emissions, which has risen by 13% since 2010 and needs to decrease by nearly 33% by 2030.

“Public charging infrastructure needs to increase ten-fold by 2030. If major markets align their policies with zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) sales by 2035, cost parity between ZEVs and internal combustion engine vehicles could be reached several years earlier.

“Further, more than 60% of the vehicles added to the roads in Africa each year are imported used vehicles,” the IEA report highlights.

Meanwhile, the steel sector accounts for about 3 Gt of CO2e, or 5% of total emissions, which has risen by about 15% since 2010 and needs to fall by about 25% by 2030.

Global average direct emissions intensity of steel production needs to decrease by about 30% by 2030, the report points out, adding that 114-million tonnes of conventional, high-emission plants are currently under way or in the planning stage.

Meanwhile, agriculture and related land use accounts for about 10 Gt of CO2e, or 17%, of total emissions, of which about 7 Gt of CO2e come from direct, farm-gate emissions.

Farm-gate emissions have increased by 0.6% a year since 2000 and need to fall by about 20% by 2030.

Further, 27% of all agriculture and land use emissions can be attributed to agricultural products that are internationally traded, the IEA notes.

There is a significant opportunity and need to strengthen international collaboration and current efforts are far from exploiting the full potential of collaboration to accelerate progress, the IEA says.

“In each sector, collaboration must go beyond sharing of best practices and include deliberate alignment of action in areas such as technology development, standards and trade, complemented by strong support to developing countries.

“Participation must expand to include more countries in each sector, to make this a truly effective global effort. Collaboration must be sustained over years to have its full impact, not sporadically started and stopped,” the agency says.

“Serious, sustained and focused international collaboration of this kind could greatly increase the chances of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 °C [above preindustrial levels], as well as positively contributing to economic development.

“This will help generate an additional 14-million jobs and prevent two-million premature deaths globally from air pollution by 2030,” the IEA says, based on the findings of its 2021 report.

Leaders of signatories, 44 countries plus the European Union, which represent more than 70% of global gross domestic product, committed at the Conference of the Parties 26 to work together to make clean technologies and sustainable solutions the most affordable, accessible and attractive option in each of the emitting sectors before the end of this decade, it adds.

“Countries should work to agree the international fora and institutions through which they will take forward each of the recommendations for collaborative action contained in this report, and should then invest in those fora both politically and financially.

“Existing institutional frameworks should be used wherever these are appropriate to the task. This can help to establish the institutional underpinnings needed for strong and sustained international collaboration over the course of this decade,” the IEA says.