National climate plans could see fossil fuel demand peak by 2025

15th October 2021


Demand for fossil fuels will peak by 2025 if all national net-zero pledges are implemented in full and on time, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has forecast.

In its annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA also outlines how CO2 emissions would fall by 40% by 2050 if all national targets were met, slashing oil consumption from 100 million barrels per day to 75 million.

However, this would still only hold the average global temperature rise at 2.1 °C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, which is far higher than the 1.5°C target in the Paris Agreement.

In another scenario, based on the energy and climate measures governments have actually put in place to date, temperatures hit 2.6°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

“Today’s climate pledges would result in only 20% of the emissions reductions by 2030 that are necessary to put the world on a path towards net zero by 2050,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA. “Reaching that path requires investment in clean energy projects and infrastructure to more than triple over the next decade.”

However, the report stresses that the extra investment to reach net zero by 2050 is less burdensome than it might appear.

More than 40% of the required emissions reductions would come from measures that pay for themselves, such as improving efficiency, limiting gas leakage, or installing wind or solar in places where they are now the most competitive electricity generation technologies.

Furthermore, the report outlines how successfully pursuing net zero would create a market for wind turbines, solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, electrolysers and fuel cells of well over $1trn (£0.7trn) a year by 2050, comparable in size to the current oil market.

“The world’s hugely encouraging clean energy momentum is running up against the stubborn incumbency of fossil fuels in our energy systems,” Birol continued.

“Governments need to resolve this at COP26 by giving a clear and unmistakeable signal that they are committed to rapidly scaling up the clean and resilient technologies of the future.

“The social and economic benefits of accelerating clean energy transitions are huge, and the costs of inaction are immense.”

Image credit: iStock

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