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High fossil fuel use putting UN climate targets out of reach — IEA

PARIS, France — The International Energy Agency warned Tuesday that energy policies must evolve if global warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, saying fossil fuel use is still "far too high".

"As things stand, demand for fossil fuels is set to remain far too high to keep within reach the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5 degrees C," or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, the agency said.

"This risks not only worsening climate impacts after a year of record-breaking heat, but also undermining the security of the energy system, which was built for a cooler world with less extreme weather events," the IEA said in its annual report.

"Bending the emissions curve onto a path consistent with 1.5 degrees Celsius remains possible but very difficult," it said.

Without substantive policy changes worldwide, global average temperatures could rise by around 2.4 Celsius this century, it said.

The report comes just weeks from the COP28 summit beginning in November in Dubai, the latest of the global climate summits hosted by the United Nations since 1995 aimed at stabilising greenhouse-gas emissions and climate change. 

The IEA did point to some positive developments including "the phenomenal rise of clean energy technologies" such as solar and wind power, electric cars and heat pumps.

It estimated there would be around 10 times as many electric cars on the roads as now, and that solar power overall would generate more electricity than the entire US power system does today.

The global share of renewable energies could rise to around 50 percent from 30 percent currently, it added. 

It also noted that investments into new offshore wind projects are three times higher than those for new coal- and gas-fired power plants.

"However, even stronger measures would still be needed to keep alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius," the IEA said, just days after OPEC said it expected oil demand growth to continue until 2045.

For the IEA, a "combination of growing momentum behind clean energy technologies and structural economic shifts around the world" could bring peaks in global demand for