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How’s the world doing on its climate goals? Not so well.
Date:30 Apr 2012
Each year, the International Energy Agency puts out a study of what technological advances are needed to keep global warming below 2°C. The 2012 report (pdf) is out and the grades are dismal: Aside from a recent boom in wind and solar power, the world isn’t making much progress. The IEA doesn’t just look at recent trends in greenhouse-gas emissions — after all, those can rise and fall with the economy. Instead, it looks at what clean-energy technologies are actually coming online. If the world wants to avoid a 2°C rise in global temperatures (and here’s an explanation of why we might want to do that), then we’ll need a certain amount of low-carbon infrastructure in place by 2020, the IEA says. That means a mix of wind turbines, nuclear reactors, energy-efficient cars and buildings, and so on. And, for most of those things, countries are way behind. The IEA has recommended that countries around the world need to have at least 38 coal plants that capture and store the carbon up and running by 2020 in order to stay on pace to meet that 2°C climate target. Currently, there are no such plants operating. What’s more, the report notes, nearly half of the new coal plants built in 2010 aren’t even up to the latest efficiency standards.