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PARIS: The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published its latest World Energy Outlook (WEO) as a handbook for attendees at the forthcoming UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow from October 31.

The special edition describes the opportunities to be taken and pitfalls to be avoided by governments following the publication of a Net Zero Emissions scenario in May this year that assumed a 1.5 °C warming limit by 2050.

For the first time the IEA now compares the outcome from two other pathways: the ‘Stated Policies Scenario’, based on energy and climate measures governments have put in place as well as specific policy initiatives that are under development; and the ‘Announced Pledges Scenario’ where net-zero emissions pledged by governments are implemented in time and in full.

In the first scenario, almost all net growth in energy demand through 2050 is met by low emissions sources resulting in a steady rise in global average temperatures to 2.6 °C above pre-industrial levels by 2100.

The second scenario sees demand for fossil fuels peak by 2025 and global CO2 emissions fall by 40 percent by 2050. However, the decline is not enough to stop a 2.1 °C warming rise by 2100.

“The world’s hugely encouraging clean energy momentum is running up against the stubborn incumbency of fossil fuels in our energy systems,” noted IEA executive director Fatih Birol. “Governments need to resolve this at COP26 by giving a clear and unmistakable 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.”

Birol said successfully pursuing a net-zero pathway would create a market for wind turbines, solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, electrolysers and fuel cells of “well over” US$1 trillion a year by 2050 - comparable in size to the current oil market.

Even in a subsequently increased electrified energy system, the new WEO report says if governments pursue net-zero, major opportunities would remain for fuel suppliers to produce and deliver low-carbon gases that would result in 26 million new jobs.

“We’ve seen some governments and fossil fuel companies dismiss the IEA’s 1.5°C scenario as ‘unrealistic,’ yet there’s no greater delusion than thinking we can solve the climate crisis by extracting more and more fossil fuels,” declared Oil Change International research co-director Kelly Trout. “Governments that have relied on the WEO in the past to justify their energy investments have no credibility in ignoring the IEA’s guidance now, when it’s finally consistent with the 1.5°C limit they agreed to in Paris.”

Key WEO energy milestones to maintain a 1.5°C global warming limit include:
• No approval of new oil and gas fields, coal mines or mine extensions.
• Halting new construction of coal-fired power plants, and retiring around 40 percent of the existing global coal power fleet by 2030.
• Investing heavily in energy efficiency, so that the energy intensity of the global economy falls by 4.0 percent annually this decade.
• More than tripling global clean energy investment by 2030, with 85 percent of total energy investment directed towards clean technologies by that year.
• Fully decarbonizing the electricity sector by 2035 in advanced economies – and by 2040 in all countries.
• Slashing fossil fuel-related methane emissions by 75 percent by 2030.
• Ending sales of new internal combustion engine cars by 2035 globally.
 
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