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By Dr Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency

The coronavirus
pandemic has brought immense disruption to our world, destroying lives and
livelihoods. But it is also reminding us that there are some challenges we
cannot tackle alone.

Limiting the spread of
the virus has required everyone to act collectively to make life safer for all
of us. This holds true for the other great crisis the world faces – untamed
levels of greenhouse gas emissions that are already bringing increasingly
dangerous consequences.

Our climate challenge
is a shared global challenge – and it is largely an energy challenge. Energy accounts
for over two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions. This means energy must
be at the heart of any solution.

There is no time to lose.
Analysis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly shows us
that global emissions need to be reduced to net-zero within the next few
decades to avoid a dangerous increase in global temperatures. The coronavirus
pandemic is resulting in a drop in emissions this year, but that came at an
unacceptable human and economic cost – and there are already signs that
emissions are rebounding as economies reopen.

The economic recovery
following the 2008 global financial crisis brought with it the biggest jump in
emissions in history. The world cannot afford to repeat that mistake. In order
to reach our global climate and sustainable energy goals, we need to quickly put
emissions into sharp structural decline. This requires a dramatic acceleration
in the transitions to clean, sustainable energy that are already underway in
many countries and industries.

The good news is we
already have affordable, reliable technologies that can put the peak in global
emissions behind us and start the drive down to net zero. The spectacular rise
of renewable technologies like solar panels and wind turbines in recent years
has shown us what is possible. Deployed quickly and on a major scale, the clean
energy technologies we have at our disposal right now can bring about the kind
of decline in energy-related emissions that would put the world on track for our
longer-term climate goals.

The ambitious recovery
plans that governments are pursuing to counter the damage caused by the
pandemic offer a unique opportunity to drive much greater investment in key energy
technologies such as more efficient vehicles and buildings, renewables and
state-of-the art electricity grids. According to recent analysis by the
International Energy Agency (IEA), together with the International Monetary
Fund, a combination of policy actions and targeted investments over the next
three years could bring about a sustainable recovery, boosting global economic
growth, creating millions of jobs and making 2019 the definitive peak in global
emissions.

Ensuring that this near-term,
structural decline in emissions can take us all the way to net-zero in the
coming decades presents a further challenge – and one that also needs urgent,
ambitious action. Decarbonising entire economies means tackling sectors where
emissions are especially difficult to reduce, such as shipping, trucks,
aviation, heavy industries like steel, cement and chemicals, and agriculture.
This will require the rapid development of many technologies that are still in
their very early stages today – some of them are barely out of the laboratory.
Recent IEA analysis has assessed the market readiness of 400 different
technologies that will be needed, but finds that only about half of the additional
emissions savings needed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 are available to
the market today.

The net-zero challenge
calls for a step change in technology innovation in critical areas such as enhancing
energy efficiency, making low-carbon electricity the main source for heating
buildings and powering vehicles, capturing, storing and utilizing carbon dioxide
before it escapes into the atmosphere, realising the potential of clean hydrogen
across many industries, and massively expanding the use of sustainable bioenergy.

Today, overall investment
in clean energy innovation is increasing, but only gradually – far too slowly to
meet our challenges head on. Furthermore, the coronavirus pandemic is
threatening to reduce funding for vital research and development efforts. Governments
and the private sector both have critical roles to play in making sure
investment in clean and sustainable energy innovation increases rather than declines
at this pivotal moment.

As the world confronts
our shared climate challenge, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) and the IEA are committed to providing evidence-based analysis. We cannot
force the world’s decision-makers to make smart and sustainable choices, but we
can make clear the consequences of the paths they choose and highlight how best
to achieve their stated goals.

Both of our organizations
are proof that by working together, governments, companies, investors and
citizens from around the world can better understand the challenges we all face
– and how to overcome them. Put simply, we need a simultaneous focus on both
ambitious, near-term reductions in emissions and accelerating investment in the
full range of clean and sustainable energy technologies necessary to get all
the way to net zero.

Source of original article: IPCC (www.ipcc.ch).
The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of Global Diaspora News (www.GlobalDiasporaNews.com).

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