Renewables won't slash emissions quickly, warns an International agency. Wind turbines, solar panels and electric vehicles are spreading far more quickly around the world than many experts predicted.

But this rapid growth in clean energy isn't yet fast enough to slash humanity's greenhouse gas emissions and get global warming under control.

That's the conclusion of the International Energy Agency, which has published its annual World Energy Outlook, an 810-page report that forecasts global energy trends to 2040.

Since last year, the energy has significantly increased its future projections for offshore wind farms, solar installations and battery powered cars, both because these technologies keep getting cheaper and because countries like India keep raising their clean-energy targets.

But the report, released Tuesday, also issues a stark warning on climate change, estimating that the energy policies countries have on their books could cause global greenhouse emissions to continue rising for the next 20 years.

One reason : The world's appetite for energy keeps surging, and the rise of renewables so far hasn't been fast enough to satisfy all that extra demand.

The result : Use of fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, keeps growing to supply the rest.

''Without new policies in place, the world will miss its climate goals by a very large maargin,'' said Fatih Birol, the agency's executive director.

1. Surpassing Coal

The world's consumption of coal, the dirtiest of all fuels, is starting to stall.

The report notes that global investment in new coal-fired power plants has slowed sharply in recent years, as countries like India increasingly find that a combination of solar panels and and battery storage can often be a cheaper way to produce electricity.

Undercurrent policies, the report predicts that renewables such as wind, solar and hydropower will pass coal as the world's dominant source of electricity by 2030, growing to 42 percent of global generation.

Coal would drop to 34 percent, Natural gas, which is cleaner than coal but which still produces plenty of planet warming emissions, is also poised to cut coal's market share.

Still, the agency notes that coal is far from dead : Hundreds of coal plants that have already been built in Asia are only 12 years old on average and capable of operating for decades to come.

It will be extremely difficult for the world to rapidly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the report warns unless these existing plants are run less frequently, retired early or retrofitted with technology to capture their carbon dioxide pollution and bury it underground.

This carbon capture technology remains costly and has struggled to gain traction.

The honor and serving of the latest global operational research on electricity production, and clean energy continues to Part 2. The World students Society thanks author Brad Plumer.


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