Investments in clean energy on the rise, but still not enough: IEA

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Investment in clean energy will hit a record this year but fall short of what is needed to tackle the climate crisis, with coal spending rising, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

Global energy investment will rise by eight percent to $2.4 trillion in 2022, mainly thanks to renewables, although soaring inflation and Russia's invasion of Ukraine are weighing on costs, the IEA said in an annual report.

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Investment in all sectors will increase but the fastest growth will come from electricity, mainly in renewables and grids, and energy efficiency.

Clean energy investment is “finally” starting to pick up and is expected to reach $1.4 trillion this year, accounting for almost three-quarters of the growth in overall spending in energy, the IEA said.

Since 2020, investment in clean energy has grown at an annual rate of 12 percent, “well short of what is required to hit international climate goals, but nonetheless an important step in the right direction,” according to the report.

This compares to an annual growth rate of just over two percent in the five years that followed the 2015 Paris climate pact.

Inflation has soared worldwide as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed energy prices higher.

The IEA said almost half of the additional $200 billion in capital investment in energy in 2022 “is likely to be eaten up by higher costs, rather than bringing additional energy supply capacity or savings.”

The costs are due to supply chain bottlenecks, tight markets for specialized labor and higher energy prices, it said.

The IEA also flagged a “warning sign”: Investment in coal supply rose by 10 percent in 2021, led by emerging economies in Asia, and is set for a similar increase this year.

While China has pledged to stop building coal-fired power plants abroad, a “significant amount” of new coal capacity is coming onto the Chinese domestic market, the agency said.

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