Stark changes in electricity needed to limit global warming

Executive Editor
Source: Ember, International Energy Agency's net-zero roadmap • Other clean electricity includes hydropower, nuclear, bioenergy, tidal, geothermal and wave.

The latest United Nations report underscores the drastic changes our world economy must undergo to sufficiently combat climate change. The chart above, via a new report by Ember, an independent think tank based in London, does a good job of distilling what needs to happen in the electricity sector.

The report finds that wind and solar could actually be on track to fulfill their role limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius if they keep up the fast growth clip they’re on now through 2030. These two renewable electricity sources accounted for more than 10% of total global electricity generation for the first time ever, Ember found.

Growth in other clean electricity sources, including nuclear power and hydropower, have stalled and must pick up the pace to get closer to the 1.5-degree goal.

Interestingly, natural gas power just needs to plateau to help reach the goal of limiting Earth’s temperature to 1.5 degrees.

The goal is becoming increasingly difficult to reach, but experts stress the need to keep striving for it even if it’s not met, given the cumulative impacts of global warming.

Electricity is also just one part of the world’s emissions (others include manufacturing and transportation). Shifting these and other sectors to be powered by electricity makes this sector particularly important to clean up.