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Surge in renewables keeps hopes of averting worst climate impacts alive

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Eric Galatas

(Colorado News Connection) Record growth in wind and solar energy, battery storage and electric vehicle sales have kept the goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 within reach, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.

But the U.S. and other wealthy nations will need to cut fossil fuel pollution by 80 percent by 2035, and clean energy capacity must triple by the end of the decade.

Kelly Trout, research co-director for Oil Change International, said the biggest challenge to avoiding catastrophic climate change is not a lack of solutions.

"We have the technologies to rapidly replace fossil fuels in the energy system," Trout asserted. "And investing in those solutions is set to create new jobs, save lives by reducing air and water pollution, and actually make energy more affordable."

The American Petroleum Institute has argued more fossil fuels are needed, not fewer, and projected oil and gas will supply nearly 50 percent of the nation's energy needs by 2050.

Trout pointed to research confirming the U.S. is on track to release one third of the world's total climate pollution from expanded oil and gas production between now and 2050.

The International Energy Agency report also backs away from relying on unproven technologies promoted by fossil fuel companies, including carbon capture and hydrogen. Trout contended such technologies other distractions aim to stall the expansion of proven clean energy sources, and protect industry profits.

"What we really need is politicians to stop listening to the same industry that got us into this problem, and start really investing all-in on solutions that will phase out fossil fuels," Trout stressed.

Investments in wind and solar have not yet slowed demand for oil and gas. Last year, climate pollution from fossil fuels reached an all-time high, and the Biden Administration continues to open up public lands for drilling. Trout believes the first thing to do when you find yourself in a hole is stop digging.

"While governments have been investing in those sorts of solutions, they have also been allowing the fossil fuel industry -- which is the biggest cause of the climate crisis -- to continue expanding at the same time," Trout emphasized.