Climate change: WMO report calls for faster action on clean energy transition

The United Nations weather agency on Tuesday issued an urgent appeal to governments around the world to switch to cleaner forms of energy, such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power. In its new report, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that to limit the global temperature rise that undermines energy security, electricity from clean energy sources must double over the next eight years.

With the energy sector responsible for around 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions, WMO chief Petteri Taalas said the shift to cleaner energy generation and Improving energy efficiency is “vital if we are to thrive in the 21st century”.

“Net zero by 2050 is the goal. But we will only get there if we double the supply of low-emission electricity in the next eight years”.

Fight against time

The State of Climate Services 2022which includes contributions from 26 different organizations, focuses on energy – a key factor in achieving international agreements on sustainable development, climate change and the health of the planet.

Access to reliable weather, water and climate information and services will be increasingly important to build the resilience of energy infrastructure and meet growing demand, which has jumped 30% over the past decade.

Time is not on our side, and our climate is changing before our eyessaid the WMO chief calling for “a complete transformation of the global energy system”.

Energy security

Climate change directly affects fuel supply, energy production and the physical resilience of current and future energy infrastructure.

Heat waves and droughts are already straining existing energy production, making it even more important to reduce fossil fuel emissions and highlighting the impact of more frequent and severe weather, water and extreme climate events. intense.

Acceleration of adaptation

Yet despite these risks, only 40% of climate action plans submitted by governments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) prioritize adaptation in the energy sector. – and the investments are therefore low.

A transition to renewable energy will help ease the growing pressure on water supplies, as the amount of water used to generate electricity from solar and wind power is far less than from more traditional power plants, whether fossil fuel or nuclear.

But countries’ current renewable energy pledges fall far short of what is needed to reach the goal of universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030, the government said. WMO.

Water stress

In 2020, 87% of the world’s electricity produced from thermal, nuclear and hydroelectric systems depended directly on the availability of water.

Meanwhile, located in areas of high water stress, 33% of thermal power plants depend on fresh water for cooling, around 11% of hydropower operations; and about 26% of hydroelectric dams.

And nuclear power plants, which depend on water for cooling, are also often located in low-lying coastal areas, making them vulnerable to sea level rise and weather-related flooding.

Renewable investments

To put the world on a net-zero trajectory by 2050, the report concludes that investment in renewable energy must triple by then.

However, international public financial flows to developing countries for clean energy have only declined.

It fell in 2019, for the second consecutive year, to $10.9 billion – 23% below the $14.2 billion provided in 2018 – and less than half of the peak of $24.7 billion. dollars in 2017.

Focus on Africa

Africa is already facing the severe effects of climate change, including massive droughts. To achieve its energy and climate goals, in addition to a considerable increase in adaptation, energy investments must double this decade, according to the WMO.

An annual injection of $25 billion, equivalent to 1% of all global energy investment, is now needed, the report says.

Meanwhile, Africa is home to around 60% of the most solar-rich environments in the world, and African countries have the opportunity to capitalize on this untapped potential and be major players in the energy market at the future.

Look forward

Climate services in the field of energy production can include the planning of gas and electricity purchases; manage emergency response; and the optimization of power plants from renewable sources – in particular reservoirs and hydroelectric operations.

In the energy sector, studies have demonstrated the economic value of very short-term, seasonal and sub-seasonal forecasts of fuel purchases.

Temperature forecasts enable more accurate calculations that enable optimal planning of power generation, to meet demand at lower cost.

Meanwhile, daily, weekly and seasonal rainfall and flow forecasts are useful for optimizing hydropower operations.

Teresa H. Sadler