A plan to coordinate the global introduction of clean technologies to quickly reduce their costs has been adopted at the Cop26 summit by world leaders representing two-thirds of the world economy.
A global shift to green energy and vehicles is crucial to tackling the climate crisis, and economies of scale mean that costs are plummeting as production rises – as has already been seen with solar panels and LED bulbs.
More than 40 nations said they would adjust standards and coordinate investment to accelerate production and bring “tipping points” forward where green technologies are more affordable and accessible than fossil fuels. At that time, the green transition and cuts in climate emissions are accelerating rapidly towards a net zero economy.
Among the countries that have signed up for the breakthrough agenda are the United Kingdom, the United States, China, India, the EU and Australia. The first five breakthroughs will be clean electricity, electric vehicles, green steel, hydrogen and sustainable agriculture. The goal is to make these affordable and accessible to all nations by 2030 and create 20 million new jobs.
“By making clean technology the most affordable, accessible and attractive choice, standard go-to in what are currently the most polluting sectors, we can reduce emissions around the world,” said Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. hosted Cop26.
“The Glasgow breakthroughs will put the turbo on this forward so that clean technologies can be enjoyed anywhere by 2030, not only reducing emissions but also creating more jobs and greater prosperity,” said Johnson, who launched a $ 3bn finance package. pounds on Monday to support green technology in developing countries.
New plans include a global electricity initiative launched by the UK and India and approved by 80 nations. The Green Grids Initiative aims to mobilize political will and funding to create international supernets on all continents and connect sunny deserts and windy shores with population centers. By connecting in many places, the super grid is the key to providing reliable electricity from renewable energy that can be locally intermittent.
Another new initiative is the Global Energy Alliance for People & Planet, which is focused on producing clean electricity throughout the global south. It has an initial $ 10 billion from the World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, Bezos Earth Fund and others. British and Scandinavian pension funds also announced on Tuesday that they would invest $ 130 billion in clean energy by 2030.
The authors of a report published in support of the Breakthrough Agenda concluded: “International cooperation can create faster innovations, greater economies of scale and stronger investment incentives to accelerate progress towards tipping points where clean solutions become the most affordable, accessible and attractive options worldwide. “
The breakthrough agenda follows other voluntary agreements at Cop26 to halt deforestation by 2030 and reduce global emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by 30%. These commitments have been widely welcomed, but some delegates warned that global warming would not be reduced unless plans become a reality. Nations at the two-week summit also have the task of raising funds for poorer and more vulnerable countries and finalizing the rules of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The cost of solar panels, LED bulbs and lithium-ion batteries has dropped by about 90% in the last decade, with solar and wind power now being the cheapest power in most of the world. By coordinating signals to industry, policies and standards, research efforts and investment, governments aim to drive production up and prices down for other technologies.
Electric cars are already cheaper to run than those that burn fossil fuels, and they are close to the turning point when they become cheaper to buy. For example, requiring car manufacturers across major markets to make a certain proportion of new cars electric may increase this.
Nations will coordinate to accelerate the growth of markets, but will also compete to supply these markets. A recent study from Oxford University estimated that the cost of clean energy technologies such as batteries and hydrogen electrolysers could fall by 45% by 2030 and 75% by 2050 with rapid implementation.
The private sector is involved in the Breakthrough Agenda with a “first movers coalition” of 25 global companies committed to buying new clean technologies in sectors such as steel, trucks, shipping, aviation and concrete. Companies are expected to include the shipping company Maersk and the cement producer Holcim.
In agriculture, coordinated rules to block the import of beef, soy, palm and cocoa in connection with deforestation can speed up the end of deforestation. An initiative between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, supported by 30 countries, has raised $ 4 billion. (£ 2.9 billion) for investments in climate-smart agriculture.
World leaders have committed themselves to discussing and strengthening global breakthrough progress each year, supported by reports led by the International Energy Agency.
The report Economics of Energy Innovation and System Transition was prepared by experts from the UK, EU, Brazil, China and India. “The policies that drove major breakthroughs in low-carbon technologies such as wind and solar were challenged by traditional economic advice, which ignored the role of innovation. [in reducing costs] and framed climate policy as costly, ”said Professor Michael Grubb of University College London and co-author of the report. “We must learn from these successes.”
Professor Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics said last week that most economists had underestimated the rate at which the cost of clean technologies is falling, and failed to take into account the “enormous risks and potential loss of human life” that could arise as a result of the climate crisis.