The technologies needed to meet the Paris Agreement's climate goals are not developing quickly enough, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.
Nearly every country in the world has committed to take action under the Paris Agreement to slow global warming. But only 3 out of 26 technology categories tracked by the IEA are on pace to help do that, the agency concluded in this year's Energy Technology Perspectives report.
The IEA, which advises countries on energy strategy, has a fairly straightforward — if not easy — solution: implement policies that will encourage investment in these technologies and work across borders to develop them.
"Many technology areas suffer from a lack of policy support, and this impedes their scaled-up deployment," IEA said. "Energy efficiency, bioenergy and carbon capture and storage (CCS) are notable examples of where significant potential for technology progress remains, but strong policy signals will be required to trigger the appropriate investments."
The IEA assessment on Tuesday came just days after President Donald Trump announced he would pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement. Trump has already moved to roll back many Obama-era initiatives aimed at mitigating planet-warming emissions, claiming they will hold back economic growth and job creation.
The technology categories that are on track to deliver results — electric vehicles, solar and onshore wind power, and energy storage — have all benefited from government support and clear policies, IEA notes.
But all 26 technology categories need to be developed and deployed in tandem in the coming years in order to ensure energy supply is affordable, secure and sustainable, according to IEA.
On the supply side, IEA said governments need to develop policies that encourage the spread of offshore wind power, nuclear energy and natural gas, while discouraging the continued use of the most inefficient coal-fired technology. It also says technology to capture carbon from power plants and other industrial facilities — so-called carbon capture and storage — needs support in order to encourage large-scale projects.
The agency also urges policies that would help speed along technology that decreases energy demand from industrial facilities, buildings and the transportation sector. Those include policies that cap the amount of carbon companies are allowed to emit. These systems are already used in the European Union and are being developed in China, Mexico and Canada.