Climate: Russia may have accelerated the planet’s energy transition despite itself

published on Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 1:01 p.m.

The paradoxical and positive climate effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is that global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are expected to peak as early as 2025, after increased investment in sustainable energy caused by the “profound reorientation” of world energy markets, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated on Thursday.

Eight days before the COP27 World Climate Conference, the Agency warns, however, in its 2022 annual report published this Thursday, against “fractures” between rich and poor countries in terms of investment in low-carbon energy, and calls for a “major international effort” to “reduce” this “worrying gap”.

“The responses of governments around the world to this energy crisis” indicate a “historic turning point”: “This crisis has certainly accelerated the transition towards green energy”, said the director general, Fatih Birol, during a conference in line.

While some countries are currently seeking to increase or diversify their supply of oil or gas – fossil fuels with high CO2 emissions – many are studying accelerating their structural changes towards clean energy, stresses the IEA, a branch of the OECD in charge of supporting many countries.

“We are approaching the end of the golden age of gas,” which has lasted a decade, Mr. Birol noted. “Demand (for gas), specifically in advanced economies, is falling” thanks to more efficient and renewable technologies, and the increase in developing countries “will not be as significant as before due to high prices.”

– The gas dead end –

Laurence Tubiana, former French climate ambassador and architect of the 2015 Paris agreement, reacted to AFP by saying that the report clearly showed that “investments in clean energy must triple by 2030, and gas is a dead end.”

Europe’s “rupture” from Russian gas came with a speed “that few thought possible” even last year, estimates the IEA.

Moscow will “lose almost a trillion dollars” in exports by 2030, Birol said.

For the first time, the agency’s three scenarios identify a peak or plateau in the consumption of each of the fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) responsible for global warming.

In the central scenario, which is based on climate investment commitments already announced by governments, global energy-related CO2 emissions would peak at 37 billion tonnes in 2025 and then fall to 32 billion in 2050.

And this, while environmental awareness is only the second motivation for investing in clean energy, behind the requirement of security of supply, says Mr Birol.

In its central scenario, these investments must exceed 2 trillion dollars in 2030, and would have to rise to 4 trillion dollars to meet the conditions of the net-zero emissions scenario in 2050.

“With an abundance of wind, sun and other renewable energy, Africa can lead the world down the path of transition and pave the way to energy sovereignty,” said Mohammed Adow, director of climate think tank Power Shift Africa.

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