IEA advice: ‘Stop building coal-fired power stations immediately and search for oil and gas’
The search for new oil and gas fields must immediately stop and no new coal-fired power stations can be built. Only then, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), will it be possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ‘net zero’ before 2050 and thus limit global warming to one and a half degrees – which scientists consider to be relatively safe. considered.
The report published on Tuesday Net Zero by 2050, according to the IEA ‘a roadmap for the global energy sector’, the agency also calls for an end to sales of new petrol and diesel cars before 2035. Furthermore, investments in the energy transition must increase from 2,000 billion dollars (1,640 billion euros) now to 5,000 billion in 2030. Due to increasing employment, about 30 million new jobs, the GDP worldwide will increase by 0.4 percent, according to the IEA.
For a chance of a maximum of one and a half degrees, ‘an unprecedented transition’ is therefore needed
The IEA, founded in the 1970s by Western countries to respond more quickly to oil shortages, has become a leading analyst of developments in the energy market. In recent years, IEA reports have paid more attention to climate change, but critics say they are still insufficient. In an interview with NRC in November 2018, IEA chief Fatih Birol warned of “major fossil fuel shortages.”
Most far-reaching scenario
In Net Zero by 2050, at the request of the British government, which is responsible for the November climate summit in Glasgow, the IEA has detailed its most far-reaching scenario. ‘Net-zero’ means that no more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere than nature, supplemented by new technology such as underground storage of CO2, can receive. There is still a “small but achievable” chance of achieving climate neutrality by the middle of the century, Birol said when presenting the report. He spoke of “perhaps the greatest challenge mankind has ever faced.”
Due to the corona crisis, which reduced economic activity and a huge decrease in (international) transport, greenhouse gas emissions fell in 2020. Many countries said they wanted to fight this crisis with ‘green’ recovery plans. But in March, the IEA warned that not much came of this and that emissions had even risen above the level of before the corona crisis. “The numbers show that we are returning to a carbon-intensive business as usual,” Birol said at the time.
The promises countries have made to reduce their emissions will lead to an increase in the average temperature on earth by 2.1 degrees Celsius, the IEA writes. A chance of a maximum of one and a half degrees therefore requires ‘an unprecedented transition’, in which ‘the gap between word and deed’ must be closed.
For example, oil companies such as Shell and BP say they aim for ‘net-zero’ emissions by 2050, but for that they would have to stop exploring new oil and gas fields this year. The IEA predicts that the share of fossil fuels in the energy supply, currently about 80 percent, will fall to about 20 percent by 2050.
Countries such as China and Australia endorse the climate goals, but in the meantime they are building coal-fired power stations without the CO2emissions are captured and they are still opening coal mines. The British government is issuing permits for the extraction of oil and gas in new fields off the British coast. And the search for oil and gas fields continues in Norwegian waters as well – while Norway does want to make the extraction of oil and gas climate neutral.
More cooperation between countries
According to the IEA, the net-zero scenario is only feasible if countries cooperate more. Industrialized countries will have to help developing countries and emerging economies, both financially and by becoming climate neutral themselves earlier. This gives poorer countries more time to achieve the goal.
Hans van Cleef, energy specialist at ABN Amro, is happy with the report, even though he was not very surprised by the content. “It is an elaboration of their own sustainable development scenario,” says Van Cleef in a telephone response. “But it is good that an organization such as the IEA is once again showing how big the task we face is.”