The latest prediction from the International Energy Agency (IEA) is that demand for three major polluting energy sources — oil, gas, and coal — will peak and begin to decline sooner than anyone expected: before 2030, the Guardian reports.
The IEA is an international watchdog organization tracking the energy policies of countries around the globe, with a goal of transitioning away from polluting options and toward eco-friendly energy like solar, wind, and water power. This is widely considered the most essential step in stopping the Earth’s warming caused by manmade air pollution.
According to the IEA, we’re closer than ever before. The official energy outlook report is set to be released in October, the Guardian explains, but ahead of that release, the IEA has shared its preliminary findings about the expected timeline for the change from oil, gas, and coal to more affordable energy.
Many countries are making policy changes with that goal in mind. The EU will ban all new gas cars starting in 2035. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency has created new rules for automakers that will strongly favor electric vehicles, and the Biden administration is investing billions in clean energy.
The IEA claims these changes are making a difference. “The world is on the cusp of a historic turning point,” said IEA head Fatih Birol in the Financial Times in September. “Peaks for the three fossil fuels are a welcome sight, showing that the shift to cleaner and more secure energy systems is speeding up and that efforts to avoid the worst effects of climate change are making headway.”
There was one sour note in the announcement: While these predictions are better than expected, they may not be enough.
As the Guardian explains, to prevent catastrophic damage to the climate, we need to stop the world from getting more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above its pre-industrial temperature. We’re already getting dangerously close to that benchmark — and according to the IEA’s projections, the current energy policies worldwide won’t turn off the heat in time.
“That will require significantly stronger and faster policy action by governments,” said Birol.
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