Rising energy demand driving up greenhouse gas emissions could result in an increase of global temperature by up to 3.6°C, despite the development of renewable resources.
According to a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the world is set to see its energy consumption rising by 37 per cent in the next 25 years. Such an increase will likely obliterate current efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions by deploying more renewable generators.
Although projections suggest renewables will account for almost 50 per cent of the expected new power generation capacity to be installed by 2040, overtaking coal as the dominant source of energy around the world, the existing greenhouse gas emissions will still be too high to avoid dangerous warming.
The IEA said that by 2040 the world will generate more greenhouse gas emissions than what is deemed safe to keep the warming below 2°C compared with pre-industrial levels.
In fact, the more accurate estimates of the temperature rise are somewhere around 3.6°C. Such an increase is expected to trigger dangerous climate change effects that would be felt around the world.
In its World Energy Outlook the IEA said current policies are not doing enough to efficiently stave off the excessive warming.
Apart from supporting zero-carbon generation and increasing efficiency of all systems, the agency said, the world will also have to face additional challenges, including integrating the growing number of wind and solar power plants into the grids and making up for the 200 nuclear reactors that will be retiring by 2040.
The failure to transform the energy system quickly enough to put the world on a path consistent with the goal of limiting temperature rises to 2°C is a critical "sign of stress" in the energy system, the IEA said.
"As our global energy system grows and transforms, signs of stress continue to emerge,” said the agency's executive director Maria van der Hoeven.
"But renewables are expected to go from strength to strength, and it is incredible that we can now see a point where they become the world's number one source of energy generation."
The organisation said the world needs a comprehensive and ambitious global deal to tackle climate change, which it is hoped can be negotiated in Paris next year.