Fatih Birol, a Turkish economist and energy expert who is the Executive Director of the IEA was quoted saying “We see clear winners for the next 25 years – natural gas but especially wind and solar – replacing the champion of the previous 25 years, coal. But there is no single story about the future of global energy: in practice, government policies will determine where we go from here”.
Just as he had earlier hintedfew weeks ago, Birol expressed doubt that objectives formulated at COP21 in Paris will be reached unless governments go further.
Meeting the temperature goals will require a “step-change” – enabling the world to achieve net zero emissions by the second half of the 21st century, and will need more action than the pledges already made by countries for cutting greenhouse gases under the agreement.
The IEA warned the pathway to 2C was “very tough”, requiring trillions of pounds of investment in the energy system to shift from fossil fuels towards renewables, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage technology.
The report referred to the challenge of meeting the 1.5C goal as “stark”, requiring net zero emissions between 2040 and 2060, and “employing every known technological, societal and regulatory decarbonisation option” in order to have any prospect of success.
Though international agreements are expected to cut energy-related carbon emissions from an average of 650 million tonnes per year since 2000 to around 150 million tonnes per year in 2040, the agency itself was stark in its assessment.
“While this is a significant achievement, it is far from enough to avoid the worst impact of climate change as it would only limit the rise in average global temperatures to 2.7 (degrees Celsius) by 2100,” the IEA’s report asserts.
Acknowledging Paris as a “a major step forward” it went on to recommend that politicians need to speed up the implementation of low carbon technologies and energy efficiency across all sectors.
The advancement of gas and renewables is predicated, according to the report, on policies and commitments by countries to tackle climate change leading to a slow in demand for oil with coal expansion grinding to a halt by 2040, even as energy demand rises 30 per cent.
In greater detail that means, under a scenario giving the world a 50/50 chance of meeting the 2C target, coal use would fall by 2.6 per cent a year, oil demand would drop back to 1990 levels by 2040 and natural gas would plateau by the 2030s.
Consumption of natural gas would increase by 50 per cent by 2040 under such a scenario, while nearly 60 per cent of new power capacity would be renewables such as wind and solar, with the clean technologies becoming the largest source of electricity.
The report is being published as countries meet in Morocco for the latest round of United Nations climate talks, which are focused on implementing the Paris Agreement.