Paris, France – Today, the International Energy Agency’s 2023 Net Zero Roadmap report reaffirms that world leaders must not develop new oil, gas, or coal beyond existing fields – and some existing fields and infrastructure will need to be closed early – to remain within the internationally agreed upon temperature limit.
The updated Net Zero Emissions (NZE) scenario charts a path to meet the international goals to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C) and recognizes the need to fundamentally shift away from fossil fuels to maintain a livable planet.
The IEA – originally founded to protect wealthy nations’ access to oil – has repeatedly confirmed that no new oil, gas, or coal fields are compatible with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5ºC, and yet countries around the world continue to approve new fossil fuel fields and infrastructure. In fact, Oil Change International’s latest research shows that even beyond stopping oil and gas expansion, 60% of fossil fuels in existing fields must stay in the ground to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
The 2023 NZE scenario includes an increasingly fast phase-out of fossil gas, which governments should heed as a wake-up call. Gas production and use declines 5% per year on average from 2022 through 2050, for a total decline of nearly 80% over that period. Compared to its 2021 scenario, the IEA has cut its projection for fossil gas demand in 2050 by almost half. This reflects the reality that renewable energy and electrification solutions are scaling up faster and are more cost-effective than industry-favored techno-fixes designed to prolong fossil gas use, such as “blue hydrogen” (hydrogen produced by gas) and carbon capture and storage.
Reflecting on the poor track record of carbon capture and storage (CCS), the 2023 NZE scenario relies on less use of CCS than ever before. The IEA acknowledges that the history of CCS “has largely been one of unmet expectations.” The roadmap reduces its projections for CCS deployment in 2030 by around 40% compared to the original NZE scenario.
While fossil fuel companies actively promote CCS, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ranks CCS as the lowest potential, highest cost mitigation option in the short-term, and CCS has delivered minimal real-world mitigation to date. Additionally, CCS projects would bring new health and safety risks to communities already overburdened by fossil fuel industry pollution.
The most equitable way forward towards a renewable energy future is a fast, fair, and funded phase-out of fossil fuels.
Kelly Trout, Research Director, Oil Change International, said:
“This report reaffirms a stark truth: To limit global temperature rise as agreed upon internationally, there’s no room for new oil, gas, or coal fields. The time for a swift, equitable, and fully funded phase-out of fossil fuels is now, with rich countries moving first and fastest and paying their fair share to finance a global just transition. As countries prepare to make serious climate commitments at COP28, they must take into account the unequivocal evidence that the shift away from fossil fuels must happen, and it must happen fast.”