No new oil and gas projects if world is to reach climate goals – IEA report

Development of new oil and gas fields must stop this year if the world is to meet its goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the leading energy organisation has said.

IGas Singleton oil site in West Sussex. Photo: IGas

In a stark warning about the need to cut fossil fuel consumption, the International Energy Agency (IEA) called for a massive jump in investment in low carbon technologies: from 1.42tn a year today to £3.54 tn by 2030.

A 220+ page report, published this morning, is the IEA’s most comprehensive analysis of how to achieve net zero by 2050.

It sets 400 milestones for governments to reach, including:

  • No new fossil-fuel powered cars after 2035
  • Decarbonisation of global electricity generation by 2040
  • No new fossil fuel boilers should be sold from 2025

On oil and gas, it said:

“There is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway.

“Beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway, and no new coal mines or mine extensions are required.”

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said:

“If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.”

“More and more countries are coming up with net zero commitments, which is very good, but I see a huge and growing gap between the rhetoric [from governments] and the reality.”

The IEA report was written to inform discussions at the COP26 climate conference, chaired by the UK in Glasgow in November.

Unlike several European countries, the UK has committed to continued oil and gas exploration. In March, the UK government said North Sea licences would be offered, as long as projects passed a “climate compatibility” test. In September 2020, the Oil & Gas Authority offered 113 new offshore licence areas to 65 companies.

Onshore licences were last offered in the UK in 2015. Just a handful of planning applications have been made for exploration in these areas but there has been no drilling, mainly because of the ongoing moratorium on fracking.

Exploration for onshore oil and gas in previously-licensed areas is continuing in England. Rathlin Energy is seeking to drill an extra six wells at one of its oil and gas sites in East Yorkshire and add another two sites in the area.

UK Oil & Gas is pursuing planning applications in Surrey and the Isle of Wight. There are also applications being considered in Cheshire and Nottinghamshire (IGas), Lincolnshire (Egdon Resources) and Rotherham (Ineos).

Alok Sharma, president-designate of COP26, said in response to the IEA report:

“We must act now to scale up clean technologies in all sectors and phase out both coal power and polluting vehicles in the coming decade.

“Our first goal for the UK as COP26 presidency is to put the world on a path to driving down emissions, until they reach net zero by the middle of this century.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s just transition campaigner, Ryan Morrison, said:

“It is massive news that the IEA has recognised that new licenses for oil and gas are completely incompatible with our climate commitments.

“The report must be a trigger for the UK and Scottish Governments to bring workers and communities together to plan for a rapid but fair transition away from fossil fuels.

“Denmark, Ireland, Spain and New Zealand have already ended new licensing for fossil fuels. With COP26 in Glasgow later this year, all eyes will be on the UK and Scottish Government as they run out of excuses for their reckless support of the companies seeking yet more fossil fuels.”

20 replies »

  1. Not sure any of that made any sense, but smoke screens do that. I shall try to work through.

    Please explain if I produce my courgettes do the Spanish continue to grow courgettes for me?

    Of course they do not. If you can not understand those simple maths. then I suggest some re-education. But of course you do understand that, it is just inconvenient.

    If you want to argue the Spanish will still continue to grow the same number of courgettes and supply “mine” to a different market, then you need to campaign in that different market. Then we are into whether you know what you campaign against and you have already posted enough to indicate you don’t. I have tried to help with the maths. by moving off the fossil fuel subject and applying to something less emotive, but even that seems beyond comprehension. Maybe you should have watched Channel 4 (that may suit) regarding the merits of Cornish lithium last night and how local production of that would be beneficial to the planet to reduce transport emissions. Okay for alternative energy but not for fossil fuel? Hmm, seems the “most of us” is not such a large grouping as suggested.

    Please continue though with your attempt to disprove the laws of maths. and physics. The longer you, and others, continue to resort to such nonsense the more others will notice not only fake news (“UK is a net exporter….of oil”-untrue, nothing to do with Trump just factually untrue) but the Wonderland of reality that has to be argued to make a point.

    I will leave with one simple point, that I know will not be answered due to it being inconvenient, but will still make it. As and when UK reduces use of oil-which will not go to nothing 1720, do some research on that-if you want to help the environment the most where should that remaining oil come from, if possible?? If correct maths. and physics are applied then the answer is obvious. Those who want to suggest something from Wonderland are free to do so, but it will still be challenged as to how correct maths. and physics suddenly don’t apply. (As Baroness Bennett found out and that was just the maths!) Yes, those laws apply to hay, courgettes, lithium AND fossil fuel, 1720. You can join a protest against them if you desire, but they will still apply.

  2. Reference your magisterial contradiction of Jono, Martin, and somewhat irrelevantly, I know, ‘Statista’ (qv) are of the opinion that in only three months between Feb. 2020 and Feb. 2021 (Jan and Feb ‘21 the most recent) did the value of oil imports to the UK exceed the value of exports. Perhaps your figures for March and April will confirm that this year sees a new trend: sadly I do not have them.
    I think I can ignore your most recent comments, but do keep on digging. The industry will expect no less of you.

  3. So, you know nothing about the oil industry-as well.

    However, you also ignored the challenge to show how the anti maths. and physics work, and no one will notice that! LOL.

    • As well as who? Are you searching for “as well as me”, perhaps? Or do you mean ‘either’? Do dig in English, Martin, it’s easier to guess what you’re talking about, and please work on your punctuation and switch off your American spell-checker.
      Of course I know nothing about the oil industry, I’ve never been in their employ, but it’s not too difficult to draw parallels with the methods used by the tobacco industry even without your ‘maths’ and ‘physics’. I’m all for both, by the way, contrary to your opinion, (I never thought I’d be be guilty of such a crass utterance but one has to adapt to the interlocutor). I just don’t rate the simple sum you can’t solve as either maths or physics. Again, you are using these terms to lend intellectual respectability to your ramblings. As you say, “No-one will notice”.
      Of course I ignored your ‘challenge’ – I’m not in this for your puerile games especially when they have been answered by others. Try answering some of my more pertinent questions.
      Come on, Martin. Your ‘denier’ and industry credentials are at stake. Someone might notice.
      Dig away.

      • So, you can’t be bothered to research issues, 1720. Added to your inability to grasp simple maths. and physics, an interesting combo.

        However interesting that may be, please excuse me for therefore deciding you are more interested in taking part than adding anything meaningful to the discussion.

        Yes, of course you ignored my challenge, and instead wandered off into tobacco! Let’s refocus. How is local oil any different to local lithium, which Channel 4 correctly states would be beneficial to the UK not least because of the reduction in transport emissions? (They also referenced local lithium would be produced in a more environmentally friendly way than most of the current/projected imports-sound familiar?!)

        So, I will keep digging, also known as research. It obviously leaves you with trying to deny simple factual information supplied within the sterile zone of you unable to supply factual information. Perhaps do some research yourself and then come up with what something needs to be done? You have been asked to do that several times. Now, here’s one for you. Invest in a large vacuum flask, boil a full kettle in the morning, have your morning coffee/tea, put the rest of the boiling water in the vacuum and no need to boil a kettle for the rest of the day.
        Probably of no interest to yourself, but for those really looking to do something there is a suggestion that many have been applying already, that would be easy for many more to apply. Just like buying from local sources! Do the basic maths. and physics and some good somethings are already out there-as long as you ignore those who can’t do either and then try and persuade such issues should be ignored.

  4. The IEA’s analysis identifies 28 different minerals required for the energy transition. With the climate policy currently adopted, demand for these will double by 2040. If the Paris Agreement is adhered to, demand would increase sixfold. It highlights that this creates many of the same problems faced in the old fossil fuel age.

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