A new report highlighted the need for stronger international collaboration to accelerate the transition to clean energy and sustainable solutions in high-emitting sectors.

The Breakthrough Agenda Report 2023, a collaboration between the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the United Nations Climate Change High-Level Champions, found that current efforts are not yet delivering the levels of investment and deployment required to meet international climate goals.

The report called on governments to strengthen collaboration in key areas such as standards and regulation, financial and technical assistance, and market creation. It also recommends that countries expand their focus to include additional high-emitting sectors, such as buildings and cement.

The report found that in the past year, only modest progress has been made in strengthening international collaboration in the areas where it is most needed. It argues that greater political commitment is needed to progress from softer forms of collaboration, such as sharing best practices, to harder forms such as alignment of standards and policies.

The Breakthrough Agenda was launched at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021 and has since been signed by 48 countries representing close to 80% of global economic output. The initiative aims to align actions by countries to make clean technologies and sustainable solutions the most affordable, accessible and attractive option in each of five key sectors: power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture.

The annual report assessed progress made since 2022 in priority areas for international collaboration and set out a series of recommendations for countries to work together in each sector to help reduce emissions over the next decade and stave off the worst effects of climate change.

The report showed how the transition to clean energy and sustainable solutions is accelerating across many sectors, with unprecedented expansion in technologies such as electric vehicles and solar PV. It highlights that electric passenger cars are set to account for 18% of total car sales in 2023, while investment in clean energy technologies is significantly outpacing spending on fossil fuels.

But other high emissions and hard-to-abate sectors such as steel, hydrogen and agriculture are not transitioning quickly enough despite encouraging progress in some areas.

The report’s recommendations span financial assistance, research and development, demand-creation, infrastructure, standards and trade, to accelerate the transition in each sector. Coordinated actions in each of the seven sectors will help mobilize investment and can create the economies of scale required to bring down the price of crucial technologies and sustainable agriculture solutions.

The report argued that greater political commitment is needed to progress from softer forms of collaboration, such as sharing best practices, to harder forms such as alignment of standards and policies, which are more difficult but can yield greater gains in mobilising investment and accelerating deployment.

“The energy transition is moving quicker than many people think, but it needs to move faster still. Our analysis shows that while some sectors are seeing stronger international collaboration, others are falling behind,” said International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol.

“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. Building on innovation, attracting investment and scaling up demand for new technologies are the fundamental building blocks for success. By delaying further, we are simply increasing the risks.”

Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA, said: ‘Renewables made up nearly half of global power generation in 2022, marking a milestone in the energy transition. However, IRENA has always highlighted an urgent need: renewable power additions must triple by 2030 to maintain a 1.5°C target.

La Camera stressed that the world needs to urgently overcome the systemic barriers across infrastructure, policy, and institutional capabilities.

“And we must realign the way in which international cooperation works. A well-targeted international cooperation can determine whether we meet our collective promise to secure a climate-safe existence for current and future generations.”

Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27 said: “The Breakthrough Agenda has made significant progress since its inception last year, but much more is needed. This report demonstrates that international action can lead to accelerated implementation of climate solutions. We now need to see more determined collective efforts to create demand for clean technologies, to mobilise investment, and to align international trade with the just transition. The acceleration in the global low carbon just transition must be connected with inclusive development pathways through ensuring linkages with and contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 said: “The Breakthrough Agenda report provides an independent assessment of the progress achieved on accelerating global climate action. Making clean and sustainable technologies the most affordable, accessible and attractive option in all regions by 2030 is vital for a regenerative and nature-positive economy. It is clear that without international cooperation that includes civil society, businesses and local actors as well as national governments, the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C cannot be achieved.”

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