Utility companies are undermining the global transition to net-zero by continuing to heavily invest in fossil fuels, according to a new research paper published in the journal Nature Energy.
Researchers from the University of Oxford used a machine-learning technique to analyse the activities of more than 3,000 companies over the past two decades.
By doing this, they found that only 10% of utility companies prioritise renewable energy.
Many countries and businesses have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, to achieve this, fossil fuels must be replaced with renewable energy. However, according to the researchers, utility companies threaten to undermine this progress by continuing to heavily invest in fossil-fuel-based power generation.
Galina Alova, lead author of the study said: ‘This research highlights a worrying gap between what is needed to stop global warming, and what actions are being taken by the utility sector.
‘Although there have been a few high-profile examples of individual electric utilities investing in renewables, this study shows that overall, the sector is making the transition to clean energy slowly or not at all.
‘Utilities’ continued investment in fossil fuels leaves them at risk of stranded assets – where power plants will need to be retired early – and undermines global efforts to tackle climate change
‘The global transition to a low carbon future might be further jeopardised by the strain that COVID-19 pandemic has put on public and private finance, as well as supply chains, resulting in delay or cancellation of new renewable energy projects.
‘This could be especially detrimental to developing countries that are dependent on green development finance.’
In related news, carbon emissions remain 14% lower than the same period in 2019, according to recent research conducted by Carbon Trust.
Carbon Trust analysed consumer spending data from Lloyds Banking Group’s customer accounts across the six key categories of food and drink, fuel, commuting, airlines, clothing and electrics.
Based on this analysis, Carbon Trust has estimated carbon emissions fell by 4.3 million tonnes during lockdown, this is a 14% decline from 2019.
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