According to the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA), significant growth of renewable energy and green investments over the last two years has meant that the world has a greater chance of staying within a 1.5C global temperature increase.

IEA executive Director Fatih Birol said in an interview, "I feel more optimistic than I felt two years ago."  He added, "Clean energy investments in the last two years have seen a staggering 40% increase".

The IEA's new report, Net Zero Roadmap, which was published this morning calls on developed counties, including the UK to bring forward their 2050 net zero targets by several years.  The UN's COP28 climate summit, which is being held in Dubai in November and December presents a real opportunity for countries to set out tougher plans on cutting their emissions.

Mr Birol said tha he wanted to see a commitment to triple reneable energy by 2030 and to reduce methane emissions from the energy sector by 75% on the same timescale.  This could be achieved by simply plugging leaks from oil and gas wells.

This optimism contrasts with last week's announcement by Prime Minister  Rishi Sunak that he was planning to row back on net zero commitments that have been made by his predecessors.  

He set out his intentions to put back plans for a 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars until 2035.   The target for ending the installation of gas boilers by 2035 will also be watered down to a target for 80% of gas boilers to be phased out by then.

The argument for making the changes to current net zero commitments is that during a cost of living crisis, bringing in new green measures that will cost consumers more will simply make life harder for large numbers of people.  Home Secretary Suella Braverman said, "We're not going to save the country by bankrupting the British people."

However, members of Mr Sunak's own party, motor manufacturers such as Ford and environmental groups have been quick to condemn the changes.    Billions of pounds are being invested by UK motor manufacturers to reach the target of selling only electric cars by 2023.   Lord Stern, who carried out a major review of the economics of climate change for the last Labour government said, "Chopping and changing will raise serious questions with businesses who see a government who cannot be trusted to follow through on policy commitments, be they climate or otherwise."

Photo:  Rishi Sunak,  ID260082997,  © Wirestock  |

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