Researchers, policymakers and energy officials said this week at a Reuters conference on the energy transition that while energy companies were under pressure to accelerate measures to reduce emissions, governments have barely addressed reducing the demand for fossil fuels which warm the planet.
A growing population in Asia and burgeoning consumerism in industrialized countries make most climate goals very difficult, if not impossible to achieve.
This month, Swiss voters rejected government environmental proposals to help the country cut carbon emissions, including measures to increase a fuel surcharge and impose a tax on airline tickets.
The International Energy Agency, responsible for energy policies in industrialized countries, said last month that the world should not develop new oil and gas fields to meet net zero targets by 2050.
But its leader, Fatih Birol, said this week that net zero goals were a pipe dream without changing global consumption patterns.
“We see a wedge growing between the rhetoric and what is going on in real life,” he said. So many governments are setting themselves net zero targets by 2050 and in the same year CO2 emissions are increasing and it will be the second largest increase in history.
Emissions are rising sharply in 2021 after dropping sharply in 2020 due to global lockdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus.–
âConsumer behavior must change as a result of government action,â he said. Emissions are rising sharply in 2021 after dropping sharply in 2020 due to global lockdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
In France, according to Birol, the government is taking measures very early on to discourage short-distance air travel.
At the same time, in Britain, the government is considering how to revive the holiday season to save the airline and tourism industries.
Birol said the IEA has over 400 milestones of what needs to happen to meet net zero goals by 2050 and 95% of those milestones are expected to be driven by changes in demand, not supply. .
Many of these goals – like a ban on internal combustion engine cars sold by 2030 or 50% of aviation fuels from non-fossil fuels by 2040 – are still wishful thinking because there is no is no industry-wide, country-wide or global policy approach to achieving these goals.
POLITICALLY uncomfortable DECISIONS
The International Monetary Fund has repeatedly criticized developing countries for wasting hundreds of billions of dollars subsidizing cheap diesel and gasoline for the poor.
But even in the United States, which consumes a quarter of the world’s gasoline, prices are just halved from those in Britain due to low taxes. The government of US President Joe Biden has made no sign that it will change that.
The transport sector can be the most difficult of all to decarbonize, and not for technological reasons, but for political, economic, business model and societal acceptance reasons.Kelly Sims Gallagher, professor of energy and environmental policy at the Fletcher School.
Instead, Biden is proposing far-reaching political efforts to quickly electrify the nation’s vehicle fleet, as well as clean up the electrical industry that would charge them. But none of these goals will come true without an act of Congress, an outcome that is far from certain given the country’s deep political divisions.
“The transport sector can prove to be the most difficult of all to decarbonize, and not for technological reasons, but really for political reasons, economic reasons, business model reasons and reasons of societal acceptance”, said Kelly Sims Gallagher, professor of energy and environment. politics at Fletcher School.
“How do you get people to buy an electric vehicle? There really isn’t much on the market that a low income family can buy … It’s really going to force governments to make politically uncomfortable decisions.” .
A Reuters / Ipsos poll this month showed Americans are skeptical of new models of electric cars and trucks, expressing concerns about the potential costs and downsides of owning such vehicles.
Sims Gallagher says policies that would work to incentivize electric vehicles are politically difficult – such as imposing fees on high-emission vehicles and discounts on low-emission vehicles.
Another challenge is a clean network and many industrialized countries have old networks that need to be rebuilt.
Rodolfo Lacy, director of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, estimates that more than $ 500 billion is provided by governments each year in fuel subsidies around the world in one form or another.
“We need to start thinking about phasing out infrastructure and technologies that we don’t need in the future,” he said.
Besides direct fuel consumption, the jury is still out on whether the world can afford to continue shipping huge amounts of goods on a daily basis to deliver computer hardware from China to Europe or fruit from South America. off season in the United States.
Asia’s population growth will encourage increased energy consumption and these people also aspire to an improvement in their standard of living.
Executives from oil majors such as BP, ENI and Equinor, who attended the energy transition conference, have made it clear that oil and gas prices are set to rise as producers cut back on production of fossil fuels under pressure from investors as demand continues to rise.
âI’m not sitting here saying we have to wait for the companyâ¦ If the supply moves too early and the company doesn’t move, we’re going to have a lag,â said Bernard Looney, CEO of BP.