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Clean energy investment ‘must be 50% higher’ to limit warming to 1.5C

An extra $460bn per year needs to be invested on the low-carbon economy globally over the next 12 years to limit global warming to 1.5C, a new paper says.

This is 50% higher than the additional investment needed to meet a 2C limit, the paper says. It is the first to assess the difference in investments and monetary flows between the two temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, the lead author tells Carbon Brief.

The paper also finds a far faster increase in low-carbon energy and energy efficiency investment would be needed to limit warming to 1.5C. Meanwhile, coal investment would not change substantially between a 1.5C and 2C scenario, the lead author says, since a dramatic downscaling of coal investments is already required to meet the 2C goal.

Financial flows

The Paris Agreement says countries should scale up finance to the low-carbon economy. Article 2.1(c) of the deal commits signatories to:

“Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”

The new paper, published today in Nature Energy, aims to quantify the scale of financial flows that may be required to meet the overarching temperature goals of the Paris deal. It assesses how much would be needed for four scenarios.

In the first, countries meet the targets laid out in their current individual climate pledges (“nationally determined contributions”, or NDCs). The second looks at meeting the Paris goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2C”. The third scenario considers a world where the aspirational Paris target of limiting warming to 1.5C is met. These are compared to a business-as-usual scenario with no further tightening of current climate and energy policies.

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