The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned delegates at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) conference that global efforts to decarbonise energy have completely stagnated.

Addressing ministers representing countries responsible for four-fifths of global greenhouse-gas emissions, IEA executive director, Maria van der Hoeven, said: “The drive to clean up the world’s energy system has stalled. Despite much talk by world leaders, and despite a boom in renewable energy over the last decade, the average unit of energy produced today is basically as dirty as it was 20 years ago.”

A new report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress, published by the IEA shows that the average amount of carbon dioxide emitted to provide a tonne of oil equivalent in 1990 was 2.39 tonnes, by 2010 this figure stood at 2.37 tonnes.

Van der Hoeven added: “As world temperatures creep higher due to ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide – two thirds of which come from the energy sector – the overall lack of progress should serve as a wake-up call,”

The IEA warned that we “cannot afford another 20 years of listlessness”. Despite the bleak outlook, the progress of solar PV technology was highlighted by the IEA as a positive sign. From 2011 to 2012, solar PV grew by 42% despite ongoing policy turbulence and economic issues.   

Van der Hoeven concluded: “We need a rapid expansion in low-carbon energy technologies if we are to avoid a potentially catastrophic warming of the planet but we must also accelerate the shift away from dirtier fossil fuels.”