Fossil fuel demand to peak before 2030 even with no new climate policies: report

Even if no new government climate policies are introduced before 2030, global demand for fossil fuels will still peak before the end of the decade, a new report by the International Energy Agency states.

The report released Tuesday says the worldwide rollout of key technologies such as renewable power, electric vehicles and heat pumps is happening so quickly that demand for coal, oil and natural gas is set to peak within the next 10 years.

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“Although the recent surge of announced projects for CCUS and hydrogen is encouraging, the majority have yet to reach final investment decision and need further policy support to boost demand and facilitate new enabling infrastructure,” the IEA stated.

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The IEA report also urges governments to adopt a “build big” mentality. Electricity transmission and distribution grids need to expand by about two million kilometres each year by 2030 to reach the IEA’s net-zero scenario, but the organization pointed out that building grids today can take more than a decade.

“We need massive growth of battery energy storage and demand response; expanded, modernized grids; more dispatchable low-emission capacity, including fossil fuel capacity with CCUS, hydropower, biomass, nuclear and hydrogen and ammonia-based plants,” the report stated.

All in all, to hold global temperatures to 1.5 C and avoid the most catastrophic impacts of warming, by 2035 emissions need to have declined by 80 per cent from 2022 levels in developed countries and by 60 per cent in developing countries, the IEA said.

Failing to make significant progress before 2035 would result in a steeper temperature increase and would force reliance on carbon removal technologies in the latter half of this century, the report warns.

“Removing carbon from the atmosphere is costly and uncertain,” the IEA said. “We must do everything possible to stop putting it there in the first place.”

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