To hope to limit global warming to a safe threshold, we must immediately abandon any new project for the exploration and exploitation of fossil fuels, concludes the International Energy Agency, arguing for an unprecedented increase in investments. in the development of renewable energies.
According to the “roadmap” of the International Energy Agency (IEA) to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and limit global warming to +1.5 ° C, countries must now abandon the future development of oil and gas projects. Only those already in operation in 2021 must be maintained, underlines the international organization placed under the aegis of the OECD.
This new analysis of the energy path to follow in order to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, published on Tuesday, specifies that this will not completely eliminate fossil fuels from the global energy mix. But by 2050, the use of natural gas should be reduced by at least 55% and the use of oil by 75%. Coal, which is the worst fossil fuel, should all but disappear from the picture, according to the IEA.
This scenario is inconsistent with current projections for oil and gas production in Canada. According to the most recent data from the Canada Energy Regulator, gas production is expected to grow by more than 30% by 2040, mainly thanks to fracking in the west of the country.
In the petroleum sector, the industry is also considering growth, particularly in the oil sands sector. Off Newfoundland, we also want to double oil production in the marine environment after 2030 – a wish supported by the Trudeau government, which has already approved 40 new boreholes since the start of the year.
Make way for renewable energies
The IEA recognizes, moreover, that the necessary transformations in the energy sector would constitute a major shift in relation to the current trajectory. But she adds in her report that this accelerated transition “will bring major benefits” for humanity, in particular by making it possible to approach the objective of limiting warming to +1.5 ° C, ie the threshold not to be avoided. overtake to avoid the worst of climate change.
The organization also sees economic benefits in the development of renewable energies. According to the IEA, these sources must generate at least 90% of global electricity demand by 2050, with solar and wind power accounting for no less than 70% of production.
To enable such growth in non-greenhouse gas-emitting energy sources, total investments are expected to reach $ 4 trillion per year by 2030, more than triple current investments. Such an energy project “will create millions of new jobs”, insists the IEA, which would have a significant effect on “world economic growth”.
The historic energy transition that is necessary will not be sufficient, however, since much of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2030 will have to come from technologies that are currently at the “demonstration” or development stage. experimentation.
“The scale and speed of the efforts required by this critical and formidable objective make it perhaps the greatest challenge that humanity has ever had to take up”, admitted on Tuesday Fatih Birol, director of the OUCH. It requires “sustained action by governments and much greater international cooperation” than today, added the economist, in particular to support the efforts of the large emerging countries.
Avoid the worst
For the moment, the international community is still very far from doing what is necessary to avoid climate collapse. According to data published in April by the IEA, global greenhouse gas emissions are expected to rebound significantly this year, due to the growth in emissions from the combustion of oil, natural gas and coal.
The decline in emissions from the energy sector reached 5.8% in 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis. This would be largely a thing of the past, however, as the IEA predicts a 4.8% rebound in 2021, which equates to a 1.5 billion tonne increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector.
This increase is expected to reduce overall emissions from the combustion of oil, natural gas and coal to some 33 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases this year, which would bring us very close to the level of emissions observed in 2019, or before the planetary health crisis.
According to the UN, this scenario of a rebound in greenhouse gas emissions is however not viable and the commitments of the States are still not up to par, five years after the signing of the Paris Agreement. The commitments formalized by the countries could lead the planet on the path of a warming of 3 ° C to 4 ° C by the end of the century.
If this scenario is confirmed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that the world as we know it would become downright “unrecognizable”, with a “decline in life expectancy” and “a decline in the quality of life” in several regions of the planet. The “state of health and well-being” of the population would thus be “substantially reduced” and this state would continue to deteriorate over the following decades. The IPCC also warns against a “major” increase in food prices, conflicts and climatic migrations.