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IEA: New Report Says $46 Trillion More to Clean Tech by 2050

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Breakthrough Institute's mission is to accelerate the transition to a future where all the world's inhabitants can enjoy secure, free, prosperous, and fulfilling lives on an...

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  • Jul 7, 2010

In a new IEA report intended to inform and guide climate and energy policy decision makers, the Energy Technology Perspective 2010 (Exec. Summary; full report purchase required) demonstrates that the clean technology revolution will require an additional $46 trillion investment (beyond energy infrastructure investment expected in BAU scenarios) if we intend to halve carbon emissions by 2050 (from 2005 levels). And, the IEA adds, a carbon price alone will not be sufficient to drive that level of investment.

According to E&E coverage (subs. Req’d):

Yesterday, IEA released its Energy Technology Perspectives report, projecting that the extra $46 trillion is needed to develop technologies that can cut global CO2 emissions in half by mid-century — a widely-accepted target for corralling temperature rise between 2 and 3 Celsius.

But if the technologies catch on, the IEA predicts, the world will spend so much less on coal, oil and other fuels that by 2050 it will come out $66 million in the black….

Pricing carbon won’t be the prime driver for this investment, the report says. Many options, such as vehicle fuel economy and burning coal more efficiently, are economic on their own. Most carbon prices being considered today are too low to drive the necessary investment all by themselves, said Peter Taylor, head of IEA’s Energy Technology Policy Division.

“We believe that a price on carbon is needed to send a strong signal to the market, but it’s unlikely this will be enough to transform our energy system,” he said. “Other policies will be needed to support technology development and deployment.”

The report also said research and development spending needs to reach two to five times its current level.


This isn’t the first time the IEA has tried to send a powerful message to world leaders, and once again the global energy watchdog is quite clear: the world must invest massively to ignite the global clean technology revolution that will make clean energy cheap and abundant. A carbon price simply won’t cut it if the world intends to stabilize global temperatures below potentially disastrous thresholds.

But the question remains — are global policy makers listening?

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