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. Sounds legit to me , I’m sure some will argue that we need more oil and gas rather than trying to save our planet though.

  2. Nope, they won’t Jono. They will argue if the oil and gas is produced local to consumption of said oil and gas then transport emissions will be reduced, and that will contribute to helping the planet. Some countries do not have that option, UK does.

    You are part of the problem masquerading as part of the solution. That may sound legit to you, for anyone bothered to do the maths. and physics it is nonsense. The only way it would be legit is if you had an interest in supporting those countries exporting oil and gas to UK and had no concern about transportation emissions and the planet. Many do such lobbying, so you would not be alone-but, you would NOT be helping the planet.

    Sorry, no moral high ground for you, just bad maths. and bad physics.

  3. Are you talking about the 100 barrels a day that’s being produced by UKOG? Around 0.0002 % of UK consumption? Yeah that kind of thing really stops imports , they produce more pollution than it’s worth and UK are already net exporters , so just stop exporting what’s produced here then no need to import anything and no need for these PONZI companies to find all this game changing oil.
    Insignificant to energy security just keeps CEOs in the lifestyle they want.
    Even you must be able to see the scam Martin 😊 Please don’t bother correcting my figures as I know they are not exact but they are not far enough out to make a difference.

    • With current UKOG oil production at the Gatwick Dribbler, it would take around 80 years uninterrupted production for them to replace just one super-tanker trip.

    • Nope, Jono, UK are NOT net exporters. No need to correct your figures, because you just slipped into fake news, and any one can see that and that does not require correcting, just pointing out.

  4. Ah! The voice of the industry again. No interest in trying to understand or address the point; this would get in the way of more of the same destruction and pollution. Instead, divert attention, distract, claim science – mathematics ( a term not grasped by some users), and physics are on your side. Pollute locally, this will save the planet, which, we can see, some care about. Some will be fooled.
    Most of us however have understood the voice of the industry and have learned to disregard this voice; its interests are not those of humanity. As for the the moral high ground implicitly claimed by the industry and its spokespersons, this deserves little more than contempt, as does the suggestion that those seeking to expose the real message of industry’s behaviour are acting against the common good.
    Please try and understand, or at least give up trying to persuade the gullible that the truth lies elsewhere – we must stop the fossil fuel industry destroying our planet. We must stop defending their interests as though they were ours.

    • So “says” someone on his plastic keyboard. Some are indeed fooled. I am not. I use fossil fuels also, but I would like them to be extracted locally if possible to make them less of an environmental issue. I have the same interests in where and how my food is produced. So, I do understand and address the point and do not post such Student Union nonsense as “most of us”. Please show data to support that statement. You can not and at the end of the day, as consumption figures show, the “most of us” is a small group and even that small group delights in utilizing the products it campaigns against. Nope, the majority are not that gullible, and can easily identify emissions from maritime transport, risks of maritime disasters and environmental risks in other countries compared to UK by using their plastic, 1720, to try and become part of the solution.

      (industry) “its interests are not those of humanity”. Fake news. Try telling that to those in intensive care relying upon artificial rubber to keep them alive, try telling that to those in disaster zones when they need pumps, diggers, generators, chain saws etc. etc. as the electricity supply has been smashed.

      For those antis who argue that an individual site in the UK is insignificant, you make a very weird argument. If that is so, why make a fuss about it? If that is so, why advocate another wind turbine “industrializing” a moorland scene? Back under that one sided equation comfort blanket. Sorry, 1720, the maths. and physics may be something you try and discount, but perhaps have a chat with your buddies who have an uncontrollable desire to resort to trashing both. It does rather shine a spotlight.

  5. To be fair and understand the issue with a balance view, one needs to read the reports in more details. As outlined by this article, the report sounds more like a wake up call and reminds the government to get real on Net Zero promises.

    First important point.
    “The pathway to achieving net-zero would result in coal demand collapsing by 90 percent by 2050 and natural gas demand slumping by 55 percent, the IEA noted. Oil demand would plunge by as much as 75 percent to just 24 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2050, from around 100 million bpd in 2019.”

    So by 2050, the world still needs to use 45% of its current natural gas consumption today. In the UK context, we will need to import from OPEC if we don’t produce our own natural gas.

    Second important point.

    “The IEA, however, noted that such a transformation would also pose new energy security risks, while the old security risks would not go away.

    Even in a scenario in which oil demand is plunging, supplies will become increasingly concentrated in a small number of low-cost producers. OPEC’s share of a much-reduced global oil supply would surge from around 37 percent in recent years to 52 percent in 2050, “a level higher than at any point in the history of oil markets,” according to the IEA.

    In the clean energy transition, the energy security risks will include the variability of supply, cybersecurity risks, and the growing dependence on critical minerals, the agency said.”

    Transition to electrification of UK energy system will create new energy security risks and dependency on rare earth and mineral (China) and still remain dependent on OPEC for that 45% of natural gas (maybe less if North Sea field are still productive by then).

  6. What’s so wrong with OPEC providing the much reduced amount of oil we’ll use in the future? Why are we led to believe that it threatens national security? If we build less reliance on oil and convert to renewables, it needn’t be a problem, even for ardent xenophobes. We trade almost everything globally and we happily import most of our food from abroad – why isn’t that a threat to national food security?

    • Not wrong at all, Alex, if you are rewarded for pressing the cause of transporting oil/gas thousands of miles when some of it could be produced locally. Not sure how you could argue that it does anything to improve the planet, however. But, great for OPEC, great for transport companies, and great for those who lobby on their behalf. How much tax is taken from OPEC producing gas/oil that filters into the NHS? None.

      You can buy nice courgettes produced in Spain and trucked up to the UK, and ignore what the truck belches out to do so. I prefer to grow my own. Some would like to ignore the obvious maths. and physics around the reality. Surely you don’t wish to join that small clique?

  7. Well said, Iaith 1720.

    You can always tell whether you have landed a decent punch on the nose of Martin Collyer because his reply will run to at least a thousand words. As usual his response is so full of straw men that I am surprised there are any bales left in the farmer’s barn.

  8. Well.PT, the farmers barn is probably empty as some don’t want to see UK production, and then find out imports can be less secure and not so good for the environment if they come from countries with lower standards. (I can remember having to airfreight a load of expensive hay from Canada to UK, good quality, thankfully, but I could have inspected local hay, if it was available, prior to purchase.)

    But, PT if you have nothing to say/post regarding the subject, then of course that does take very few words. But showing that you are still there is really important?! LOL.

    Very interesting though that since Natalie Bennett’s shocker with Andrew Neil and being unable to explain the maths., it seems to have become the default of the Greens-unable to explain maths. so pretend they don’t apply and try and recruit those who have yet to learn maths. And, hey ho, you may end up a Baroness! That spotlight shines through, though.

    “Landing a decent punch on the nose of Martin Collyer”. Tut, tut. Keep it peaceful . Not certain that plastic should be used to encourage violence, or that DoD should feature personal attacks, but if that is the moral high ground, I will try and avoid it.

  9. Philip’s comments are not personal, Martin; try and read them again. They are rightly directed at the quality of your ‘argument’ (to use the term in its widest possible sense – farmers’ barns, importing hay, Natalie Bennett, maths and physics, violence-free plastics, your vision for DoD, and don’t forget the courgettes!).
    I really am tempted to give up on your “maths”, Martin. Surely your arithmetic is up to solving ‘1 UK well plus 1 foreign well = how many wells?’ You have to play fair though: you can’t just assume the foreign well isn’t there, just because the UK well exists. Of course it’s not as simple as that, Martin, and of course emissions from transport are as unwelcome as other emissions, but as Alex points out, our need for oil will reduce, indeed, according to the IEA report above, has to reduce, and now. The search for and exploitation of new fossil fuel reserves, – probably mandatorily to be turned off as soon as available – seems a trifle foolish, if not despicably and/or stupidly self-interested.
    Please stop the silly gibes about plastic users continuing to use plastic, Martin. We don’t realistically have a choice as that’s all your industry makes available economically in most cases. Your usual accusation of hypocrisy is inappropriate according to most accepted definitions of the term.
    As an unofficial or official industry spokesperson, Martin, and as a follower, of course, of movements in share prices, you will be aware that your industry – (please stop your “fake news” comments, it’s so, well, Trumpish) – is thinking again about its ‘green washing’ tactics. Yesterday’s news report on Shell’s shareholders voting for firm targets on fossil fuel reduction. Its CEO says he’ll try and understand why they did (sic).
    As another assault on the grow-your-own position as applied to fossil fuels, I agree, Martin, that in cases where this is possible – your own hay- and courgette making, for example – without contributing to the apocalypse even your industry has known about for decades, it should, and I know is, encouraged, and rightly so. I think I have said so before.
    I’d like to respond to the final sentence of your first paragraph in your
    09.23 post that day, Martin, but the syntax, as so often, eludes me.
    In the meantime, keep digging, Martin.
    Sorry about the length of this, Philip.

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