IEA’s Breakthrough Agenda Report: Strengthening International Cooperation for a 1.5°C World


A recent report emphasizes the urgent need for enhanced international collaboration to address emissions in high-polluting sectors such as power, transport, industry, buildings, agriculture, steel, hydrogen, and cement, in order to reach the ambitious 1.5°C climate target. The Breakthrough Agenda Report, an annual publication, jointly authored by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and the United Nations Climate Change High-Level Champions, underscores the slow progress made in transitioning to clean technologies and sustainable solutions over the past year. This stagnation has prompted a call for stronger and more targeted international cooperation to expedite transitions that are not only efficient but also cost-effective for all.


The report, released just ahead of Climate Week NYC, evaluates the strides taken and actions needed to achieve the objectives of the Breakthrough Agenda. This commitment, endorsed by 48 countries representing nearly 80% of the global economic output, was initially introduced at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021. The partnership with the UAE COP28 Presidency in January 2023 further solidified this effort. The initiative aims to align countries’ actions, making clean technologies and sustainable solutions the most appealing, affordable, and accessible options in key sectors contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

This year’s report expands its focus to include buildings and cement, in addition to the original sectors of power, road transport, steel, hydrogen, and agriculture. Together, these seven sectors account for over 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the Agriculture Breakthrough component addresses issues related to climate adaptation, nature preservation, and food security.


In its second annual edition, the report assesses the progress achieved since 2022 in areas requiring international cooperation and offers recommendations for nations to work together within each sector to reduce emissions over the next decade. The report acknowledges the acceleration of the transition to clean energy and sustainable solutions in several sectors, notably in the widespread adoption of electric vehicles and solar photovoltaic technologies. Electric passenger cars are predicted to constitute 18% of total car sales in 2023, while investment in clean energy technologies has significantly outpaced spending on fossil fuels. However, high-emission and hard-to-abate sectors like steel, hydrogen, and agriculture are not transitioning swiftly enough, despite notable advancements in select areas.

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The report’s recommendations encompass financial assistance, research and development, demand creation, infrastructure development, standards alignment, and trade dialogues, all of which are essential for expediting the transition in each sector. Coordinated actions within these sectors can attract investments and facilitate economies of scale, ultimately driving down the costs of crucial technologies and sustainable agriculture solutions.

Regrettably, the report reveals that international collaboration in the most crucial areas has only seen modest progress in the past year. While there have been advances in expanding financial aid to developing nations in some sectors and in joint research and development initiatives, much more effort is required to harmonize policies that create demand for clean technologies and establish trade dialogues in sectors where this is paramount for a successful transition. Most notably, participation in leading initiatives for practical cooperation still falls short of encompassing the majority of the global market.

The report underscores the need for greater political commitment to move beyond softer forms of collaboration, such as sharing best practices, toward more challenging endeavors like aligning standards and policies. Although these endeavors may be more demanding, they promise greater returns in terms of mobilizing investments and accelerating deployment.

International Energy Agency Executive Director, Fatih Birol, stated, “The energy transition is moving quicker than many people think, but it needs to move faster still. Our analysis shows that while some sectors are seeing stronger international collaboration, others are falling behind. No country can tackle the climate and energy challenges we face in isolation. Working together is the only way we can deliver a smooth transition for everyone. Building on innovation, attracting investment, and scaling up demand for new technologies are the fundamental building blocks for success. By delaying further, we are simply increasing the risks.”

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“Renewables made up nearly half of global power generation in 2022, marking a milestone in the energy transition. However, IRENA has always highlighted an urgent need: renewable power additions must triple by 2030 to maintain a 1.5°C target. We must urgently overcome the systemic barriers across infrastructure, policy, and institutional capabilities. And we must realign the way in which international cooperation works. A well-targeted international cooperation can determine whether we meet our collective promise to secure a climate-safe existence for current and future generations,” commented IRENA’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera.

UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27, Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, said, “The Breakthrough Agenda has made significant progress since its inception last year, but much more is needed. This report demonstrates that international action can lead to accelerated implementation of climate solutions. We now need to see more determined collective efforts to create demand for clean technologies, to mobilize investment, and to align international trade with the just transition. The acceleration in the global low carbon just transition must be connected with inclusive development pathways through ensuring linkages with and contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, Ms. Razan Al Mubarak, stressed the importance of making clean and sustainable technologies affordable and accessible, commenting, “The Breakthrough Agenda report provides an independent assessment of the progress achieved on accelerating global climate action. Making clean and sustainable technologies the most affordable, accessible and attractive option in all regions by 2030 is vital for a regenerative and nature positive economy. It is clear that without international cooperation that includes civil society, businesses and local actors as well as national governments, the goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C cannot be achieved.”

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Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, President-Designate for COP28 UAE, urged urgent action to curb carbon emissions and stated, “Urgent action to curb carbon emissions in heavy emitting sectors is essential to keep 1.5C within reach. We have made progress, but we require rapid action and immense scaling as highlighted by the Breakthrough Agenda Report. We call on countries to triple global renewable energy capacity to 11,000GW, double annual energy efficiency improvements, dramatically scale up low-carbon hydrogen while decarbonizing the current energy system. For this, we need greater international collaboration along priority actions, especially to support developing and vulnerable countries. It is imperative to expedite an energy transformation that is not only swift but also just, equitable, orderly, and responsible. Only then can we set the world on track to meet the Paris goals.”

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