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3 Years and $3 Trillion Could Shift the Climate Change Narrative

A new report from the International Agency details what it will take to lock in this year’s drop in emissions.  Bloomberg By Eric Roston and Akshat Rathi

June 17, 2020, 10:00 PM MDT

Plummeting carbon emissions and big government spending—two of the defining narratives of 2020 so far—could create an unprecedented opportunity for the world to meet the goals enshrined in the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, according to the International Energy Agency. With $1 trillion of investment over each of the next three years, global energy-related CO₂ emissions could end up falling in 2023 by 4.5 billion metric tons, or 14% of last year’s total. So says a special edition of the IEA’s annual World Energy Outlook, released today, which looks at more than 30 individual policies with the potential to both lift the world out of its Covid-19 economic slump and generate climate-safe growth. Together they would create 9 million jobs across a variety of energy-intensive sectors and push global GDP 3.5% higher by 2023 than it would otherwise have been, according to a joint IEA-International Monetary Fund analysis.

“The plan would make 2019 the definitive peak in global emissions, putting them on a path towards achieving long-term climate goals,” the report states. 

The IEA is releasing its analysis at a moment when many nations are beginning to consider what the next phase of pandemic stimulus should look like, giving its recommendations unusual urgency. The energy sector has received limited stimulus funding thus far, but according to the report, greater support would further the triple goals of recovery: growth, job creation, and climate-safe development. The new analysis focuses on potential job gains and targeted policies in six sectors: electricity, transport, buildings, industry, fuels, and technology. Retrofitting buildings to make them more efficient users of energy would create the most jobs, followed by the solar and power-grid work. Many of the recommended policies would accelerate changes already enabled by technology and welcomed by markets, such as the rise of electricvehicles, batteries and renewable power, industrial energy efficiency and recycling, and cutting oil-and-gas methane emissions. The policy catalog also encourages urgent development of expensive or new technologies that have yet to reach market scale, including carbon-capture and storage, modular nuclear reactors, and high-speed rail networks.



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