• Reuters

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The share of fossil fuels in the world’s total energy mix is as high as a decade ago, despite the falling cost of renewables and pressure on governments to act on climate change, a report by green energy policy network REN21 showed on Tuesday.

Fossil fuel use has persisted amid rising global energy demand, continued consumption and investment in new fossil fuel plants, and lower use of biomass energy — such as wood or agricultural waste — in heating and cooking, the report said.

Burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil creates carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.

As the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide emissions has grown to record levels, calls have grown for governments to make steeper emissions cuts and curb the use of fossil fuels to meet global climate goals.

REN21 said the share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix was 80.2% in 2019, compared to 80.3% in 2009, while renewables such as wind and solar made up 11.2% of the energy mix in 2019 and 8.7% in 2009, the report said.

The rest of the energy mix comprises traditional biomass, used largely to cook or heat homes in developing countries.

Yet, in many regions, including parts of China, the European Union, India and the United States, it is now cheaper to build new wind or solar photovoltaic plants than to operate existing coal plants.

Renewables also are outcompeting new natural gas-fired power plants on cost in many locations, and are the cheapest sources of new electricity generation in countries across all major continents, the report said.

“We are waking up to the bitter reality that the climate policy promises over the past 10 years have mostly been empty words,” said Rana Adib, REN21’s executive director.

“The share of fossil fuels in final energy consumption has not moved by an inch,” she added.

In many countries, COVID-19 economic recovery packages aim to stimulate further investment in renewable energy. But renewable investments are only around one-sixth of fossil fuel investments, the report added.

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