The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned delegates at the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) 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, told CEM: “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 has 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.”