International targets to tackle catastrophic climate change are at risk as global energy demand soars.
That’s the call from Capgemini, which has published a new report highlighting that as global energy demand continued to rise through 2018, so did greenhouse gas emissions.
It notes despite the continuing growth and falling costs of renewable energy sources, coal, oil and gas “remain the cornerstone” of growing energy consumption and adds geopolitical and commercial tensions, as well as declining clean energy investments, mean the world “will very likely fail to meet the objectives of the Paris accord” unless bolder measures are implemented.
Efforts to reduce emissions stalled in 2018, with growth of 2%, compared to a 1.6% increase in 2017 and no growth in Europe between 2014 and 2016 – the report says this was largely driven by increasing energy demand in China, the US and India, which saw emissions growth of 2.3%, 3.4% and 6.4% respectively.
It shows global energy consumption boomed by 2.3% in 2018, nearly twice the average annual growth rate since 2010, with almost 75% of that growth driven by oil, gas and coal – despite renewables retaining their status as the fastest-growing energy source worldwide, at a rate of 14.5%, investment in clean energy fell to $217.6 billion (£169bn) in the first half of 2019, 14% lower than the same period in 2018.
The report claims issues with acceptance, intermittency and distribution are preventing renewables from being “definitively more competitive” than most sources of traditional electricity generation.
It recommends raising carbon prices, increased use of renewables, developing electric vehicle infrastructure, increasing financing for carbon capture, usage and storage research and promoting clean coal technologies, as well as dedicating 100% of the proceeds from environmental taxes to energy transition projects, upgrading old buildings to be more energy efficient and starting behavioural change programmes.
Philippe Vié. Global Energy, Utilities and Chemicals Sector Leader at Capgemini, said: “With global energy demand rising and mostly being met by fossil fuel consumption, the objectives of the Paris accord are looking more distant than ever.
“It’s notable that we are seeing these disturbing trends even as renewable energy sources become more prevalent and affordable. We need bolder short-term measures and policies to reduce emissions and avoid further deviations from the Paris accord, starting with a commitment that every dollar collected in environmental taxes will go towards energy transition projects.”