The executive director of the International Energy Agency said he would be “too diplomatic” if he told us the Paris Agreement temperature targets could still be met.
Only radical changes in technology and government policy can get us there now, Fatih Birol said in an June 25 appearance at the Brookings Institution.
“I am not very hopeful now that we will be able to reach our targets unless there are major, huge technological breakthroughs,” Birol told David Victor, who co-chairs the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy & Climate. Victor had asked Birol if the current effort to hold global warming to 2º C—or even 3º—is “just hopeless.”
“You look today at how much of the carbon budget is left,” Birol replied, “and you look at all of the committed, under-construction projects, their type and the emissions coming from that, it is not difficult to model. It is addition and subtraction. You can get the numbers and it’s very easy.”
Absent radical changes in technology and policy, the IEA predicts greenhouse gas emissions will continue rising until at least 2040. One goal of the Paris Agreement is an emissions peak in the 2020s.
“In a long lead-time industry, 2020 is finished,” Victor said.
“Yeah, it’s over,” Birol replied. “I am not very hopeful now that we will be able to reach our targets unless there are major, huge technological breakthroughs.” Forbes