Insufficient Progress in Global Transition to Clean Technologies Sparks Urgent Call for Stronger International Collaboration

Greenhouse gas emissions by sector

A new report released on the eve of Climate Week NYC by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and the United Nations Climate Change High-Level Champions warns that inadequate progress in transitioning to clean technologies and sustainable solutions in the past year underscores the necessity for robust and targeted international cooperation in high-emission sectors.

The report, part of the annual Breakthrough Agenda collaboration, reveals that although efforts to promote clean energy and sustainability have improved, they are still falling short of the required levels of investment and deployment to meet global climate goals. As a response, governments are urged to bolster collaboration in areas like standards, regulation, financial and technical assistance, and market creation to accelerate the transition.

The Breakthrough Agenda, initiated in 2021 at COP26 in Glasgow, is a commitment signed by 48 countries representing nearly 80 percent of the world’s economic output. It aims to make clean technologies and sustainable solutions the most affordable, accessible, and appealing option in five key sectors: power, road transport, steel, hydrogen, and agriculture. This year’s report has broadened its scope to include buildings and cement, collectively accounting for over 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The report’s second annual edition assesses progress made since 2022 in priority areas for international collaboration and offers recommendations for countries to collaborate in each sector, with the goal of reducing emissions over the next decade. The report acknowledges that the transition to clean energy and sustainable solutions is accelerating in several sectors, with electric vehicles and solar photovoltaic technologies experiencing unprecedented growth. However, certain high-emission and hard-to-abate sectors like steel, hydrogen, and agriculture are not transitioning quickly enough, despite some encouraging developments.

The report’s recommendations span financial assistance, research and development, demand creation, infrastructure, standards, and trade, aiming to mobilize investment and create economies of scale to reduce the cost of crucial technologies and sustainable agriculture solutions.

In the past year, the report found only modest progress in strengthening international collaboration in crucial areas. While there have been improvements in expanding financial assistance to developing countries and joint research and development initiatives, there is still much work to be done in aligning policies to create demand for clean technologies and establishing trade dialogues. In most sectors, participation in leading initiatives for practical cooperation falls short of a majority of the global market.

The report emphasizes the need for greater political commitment to move from softer forms of collaboration, such as sharing best practices, to more challenging forms like aligning standards and policies. Such efforts can yield significant gains in mobilizing investment and accelerating deployment.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol stated, “No country can tackle the climate and energy challenges we face in isolation. Working together is the only way we can deliver a smooth transition for everyone.”

Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA, highlighted the need to triple renewable power additions by 2030 to maintain a 1.5°C target and urged overcoming systemic barriers and realigning international cooperation.

UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27, Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, emphasized the need for collective efforts to create demand for clean technologies, mobilize investment, and align international trade with a just transition.

UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, Razan Al Mubarak, underscored the importance of international cooperation involving civil society, businesses, local actors, and national governments to achieve the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C.

The report serves as a call to action, emphasizing that the global transition to clean technologies and sustainable solutions must accelerate to address the urgent challenges of climate change. Stronger international collaboration is the key to achieving these critical goals.