“No new oil and natural gas fields are required beyond those that have already been approved for development. No new coal mines or mine extensions are required.” — IEA, Net-Zero by 2050, p.99
Why is this statement so earth-shattering? People have been saying this for years. What is significant is who said it. The IEA is a widely-respected, non-partisan organization that governments and industry both look to for estimates and about future energy demand and trends. As calls for fossil fuel restrictions have grown, fossil fuel companies have pointed to the IEA again and again saying “the IEA expects demand for oil and gas to grow in coming decades and we plan to meet that demand.”
In fact, activists have long been critical of the IEA because they have a tendency to underestimate the rise of renewables and predict stable future demand for legacy fuels like coal. The image below is from 2017, but it gives you a sense of how conservative the IEA has been historically. The flat, boring horizontal lines are the IEA’s prediction of solar energy production, year after year after year, and the sky rocketing black line is what was actually happening in renewables in that time period.
This is why we’re saying that this report kills greenwashing dead. The IEA is a well-respected and very conservative organization, their data is used consistently by governments, energy comanies and financial institutions for their own modelling and forescasts. They looked at the question of ‘how do we get to Net-Zero by 2050’ and the answer was NO NEW FOSSIL FUEL PROJECTS.
This report backs everyone with a net-zero 2050 pledge (looking at you RBC, TD & BMO) into a corner. Either they stop funding new projects starting this year or they admit they aren’t actually trying to achieve net-zero 2050.
So what’s in the report?
Beyond killing greenwashing dead, the report has a huge amount of very detailed information about how we actually get to Net-Zero 2050 and what that means year by year. You will see that by 2025 all new water heaters have to be electric. Coal power plants have to shut down in advanced economies and 60% of global car sales must be electric by 2030. In many ways these timelines are once again conservative and countries that see themselves as climate leaders (looking at you Canada) should aim to beat them rather than meet them, but it’s interesting to see the shifts that have to happen.
If you don’t own a giant company or write national building codes, there’s also interesting information for you as the IEA lists a lot of behavioural changes we will need to reduce energy demand while we wait for our existing stock of gas-guzzling vehicles and buildings to roll over.
Obviously reducing driving and flying and moderating your temperature at home are things we think about and talk about at Climate Pledge Collective, but I hadn’t thought much about the fact that cars use more gas to go the same distance at higher speeds. Drive slow, homie, drive slow.
The full report is here.