World's supply of clean energy 'must DOUBLE by 2030'

World’s supply of clean energy must DOUBLE by 2030 before climate change starts to jeopardise our energy supplies, World Meteorological Association warns

  • Experts warn world’s supply of clean energy must double in the next eight years
  • Otherwise they say climate impacts will begin to jeopardise our energy supplies
  • The warnings feature in a new report by the World Meteorological Association 
  • The report focuses on how to develop clean energy to achieve net zero by 2050

The world’s supply of clean energy must double in the next eight years before climate change starts to jeopardise our energy supplies, a new report has warned.

Scientists at the World Meteorological Association (WMO) say solar, wind, hydropower and energy efficiency are the key to a cleaner energy future.

However, the impact climate change is already set to have on weather means early warning systems are required to prevent severe weather events from impacting energy supplies, including from renewable energy sources.

The report focuses on how we can develop clean energy to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. 

It states that energy adaptation must be a top priority for tackling climate change and countries need to invest more in the sector.

Power: The world’s supply of clean energy must double in the next eight years before climate impacts begin to jeopardise our energy supplies, a new report has warned (stock image)

African countries have an opportunity to seize untapped potential and be major players in the market, the WMO says, with the continent home to 60 per cent of the best solar resources globally. Yet Africa only has 1 per cent of installed photovoltaic capacity (pictured)


Greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases reached a new global high in 2020, when the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) hit 413.2 parts per million (ppm) globally, or 149 per cent of the pre-industrial level. 

Data from specific locations indicate that they continued to increase in 2021 and early 2022, with monthly average CO2 at Mona Loa in Hawaii reaching 416.45 ppm in April 2020, 419.05 ppm in April 2021, and 420.23 ppm in April 2022.


The global annual mean temperature in 2021 was around 1.11 ±0.13 °C above the 1850-1900 pre-industrial average, less warm than some recent years owing to cooling La Niña conditions at the start and end of the year. 

The most recent seven years, 2015 to 2021, are the seven warmest years on record. 

Ocean heat 

This reached a record high in 2021. 

The upper 2,000m depth of the ocean continued to warm last year and it is expected it will keep doing so in the future — a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial time scales.

All data sets showed a particularly strong increase in ocean warming rates over the past two decades. 

The warmth is penetrating to ever deeper levels, experts said, while much of the ocean experienced at least one ‘strong’ marine heatwave at some point in 2021. 

Ocean acidification

The ocean absorbs around 23 per cent of the annual emissions of anthropogenic CO2 to the atmosphere.

This reacts with seawater and leads to ocean acidification, which threatens organisms and ecosystem services, and hence food security, tourism and coastal protection. 

As the pH of the ocean decreases, its capacity to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere also declines.  

Global mean sea level 

This also reached a new record high in 2021, after increasing at an average 4.5 mm per year over the period 2013 -2021. 

This is more than double the rate of between 1993 and 2002 and is mainly due to the accelerated loss of ice mass from the ice sheets. 

Experts said it has major implications for hundreds of millions of coastal dwellers and increases vulnerability to tropical cyclones.

‘The energy sector is the source of around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions,’ said WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas.

‘Switching to clean forms of energy generation, such as solar, wind and hydropower – and improving energy efficiency – is vital if we are to thrive in the twenty-first century. Net zero by 2050 is the aim. 

‘But we will only get there if we double the supply of low-emissions electricity within the next eight years.’

He added: ‘Time is not on our side, and our climate is changing before our eyes. We need a complete transformation of the global energy system.’

The WMO’s State of Climate Services annual report, which includes inputs from 26 different organisations, focuses on energy this year.

Experts said the reason for this was because energy holds the key to international agreements on sustainable development and climate change and, indeed, to the planet’s health. 

Access to reliable weather, water and climate information and services will be increasingly important to strengthen the resilience of energy infrastructure and meet rising demand (an increase of 30 per cent in the past ten years), they added. 

Despite issuing warnings, the report also highlights the opportunities for green-powered grids to help tackle climate change, improve air quality, conserve water resources, protect the environment and create jobs.

It states that by 2050, global electricity needs will mainly need to be met through renewable energy, with solar the single largest supply source. 

African countries have an opportunity to seize untapped potential and be major players in the market, the WMO says, with the continent home to 60 per cent of the best solar resources globally.

‘We urgently need to respond to the growing impact of climate change on energy systems if we are to maintain energy security while accelerating the transition to net-zero,’ said Dr Fatih Birol, from the International Energy Agency.

‘This requires long-term planning and bold policy action to spur investment, which in turn needs to be underpinned by comprehensive and reliable weather and climate data.’

Francesco La Camera, from the International Renewable Energy Agency, added: ‘Now is the time to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy future. Anything short of radical and immediate action will ultimately eliminate the chance of staying on the 1.5°C (2.7°F) path. 

‘The intertwined energy and climate crises have dramatically exposed the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of an economic system heavily reliant on fossil fuels. 

‘Advancing the transition to renewables is a strategic choice to bring affordable energy, jobs, economic growth and a resilient environment to the people and communities on the ground.’

Climate change directly affects fuel supply and energy production, expert say, as well as the physical resilience of current and future energy infrastructure. 

Heatwaves and droughts are already putting existing energy generation under stress, making it even more important to reduce fossil fuel emissions.

Scientists say the impact of more frequent and intense extreme weather, water and climate events is already clear.

For example, in January 2022, massive power outages caused by a historic heatwave in Buenos Aires, Argentina affected around 700 000 people. 

In November 2020, freezing rain coated power lines in the Far East of the Russian Federation, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity for several days.

Concerns about the impact of global temperature increases on energy security are therefore paramount in the race to net zero emissions (NZE).

Supply from low-emissions sources needs to double by 2030 if the world is to reach net zero by 2050, according to the report.

A transition to renewable energy will help alleviate growing global water stresses because the amount of water used to generate electricity by solar and wind is much lower than for more traditional power plants, either fossil-fuel- or nuclear-based.

But current pledges by countries fall well short of what is needed to meet the objectives set by the Paris Agreement, leaving a 70 per cent gap in the amount of emissions reductions needed by 2030.


The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to control and limit climate change.

It hopes to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C (3.6ºF) ‘and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C (2.7°F)’.

It seems the more ambitious goal of restricting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) may be more important than ever, according to previous research which claims 25 per cent of the world could see a significant increase in drier conditions. 

The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main goals with regards to reducing emissions:

1)  A long-term goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels

2) To aim to limit the increase to 1.5°C, since this would significantly reduce risks and the impacts of climate change

3) Governments agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible, recognising that this will take longer for developing countries

4) To undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science

Source: European Commission 

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