Dec. 27 (UPI) -- The year 2022 was a tough one for the growing number of people living in food insecurity and energy poverty around the world, and the beginning of 2023 is looking bleak.
Drought, exacerbated in some places by warring groups blocking food aid, pushed parts of the Horn of Africa toward famine. Extreme weather disasters have left trails of destruction with mounting costs on nearly every continent. More countries found themselves in debt distress.
I've been involved in international sustainable development for most of my career and now teach climate diplomacy. Here's how two key systems that drive the world's economy -- energy and finance -- are starting to shift toward sustainability and what to watch for in 2023. But while oil-producing countries and gas lobbyists are arguing for more drilling, global energy investments reflect a quickening transition to cleaner energy. It now expects the world to install as much solar and wind power in the next five years as it installed in the past 50 years.
The second report showed that energy use is becoming more efficient globally, with efficiency increasing by about 2% per year. As energy analyst Kingsmill Bond at the energy research group RMI noted, the two reports together suggest that fossil fuel demand may have peaked. While some low-income countries have been eager for deals to tap their fossil fuel resources, the IEA warns that new fossil fuel production risks becoming stranded, or uneconomic, in the next 20 years.
The main obstacles to the exponential growth in renewable energy, IEA points out, are antiquated energy policy frameworks, regulations and subsidies written at a time when energy systems, pricing and utilities were all geared toward fossil fuels. In the United States, the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will pour hundreds of billions of dollars into clean energy and technology. Europe's REPowerEU commitments will also boost investment. However, concerns about "buy American" rules within the new U.S. climate laws and an EU plan to launch a carbon border adjustment tax are raising fears that nationalism in trade policy could harm the speed of green growth. It's also crucial to how low-income countries develop their energy systems, build resilience and recover from climate disasters. Debt is ballooning in low-income countries, and climate change and disasters like the devastating flooding in Pakistan wipe out growth and add costs.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has brought together international financial institutions with think tanks and philanthropists to push for changes. It calls for countries' vulnerability to be measured by climate impact, and for funds to be made available on that basis, rather than income. It also urges more risk-taking by the development banks to leverage private investment in vulnerable countries, including climate debt swaps. A working group established by the G-20 points out that the "easiest" trillion dollars to access for urgent climate response is that already in the system.
Watch in 2023 to see if this is the year the G-7 and the G-20 rekindle their global economic leadership roles. Their members are the largest owners of the international financial institutions, and also the largest emitters of carbon dioxide on the planet. India will lead the G-20 in 2023, followed by Brazil in 2024. Their leadership will be critical. In the IMO fund, big oil importers pay in, and the fund pays out in the event of a spill. Barbados supports creating a similar fund to help countries when a climate event costs more than 5% of a country's GDP.
Finally, the breakthrough agreement on biodiversity reached in December provides more promise for 2023. Countries agreed to conserve 30% of the world's biodiversity and restore 30% of the world's degraded lands. The funding -- a $30 billion fund by 2030 -- remains to be found, but the plan clarifies the task ahead and nature's place in it. And we can hope 2023 is a year when signs of peace in our war against nature break out. Read the original article.
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