Paris, France – Today, the International Energy Agency’s flagship report, the World Energy Outlook (WEO), reaffirms that world leaders must not develop new oil, gas, or coal beyond existing fields, and must close some existing fields and infrastructure early, to remain within the internationally agreed upon temperature limit. The WEO’s findings reinforce urgent calls for governments to commit to a fast, fair, funded, and full phase-out of fossil fuels at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai (COP28).
The 2023 WEO highlights a significant gap between current energy policies and the immediate and rapid declines in oil, gas, and coal needed by 2030 to ensure a livable planet. In its current policies scenario (Stated Energy Policies Scenario, STEPS), the IEA finds that demand for oil and gas will peak by 2030 for the first time, and demand is predicted to grow between now and then. In contrast, in the Net Zero Emissions (NZE) scenario, the only WEO scenario aligned with limiting temperature rise to globally agreed limits, fossil fuel extraction and use must decrease by nearly 30% by 2030. The IEA emphasizes that while renewable energy can ramp up rapidly to meet global energy needs, governments must take more ambitious steps to swiftly and fairly transition away from fossil fuels.
The IEA has repeatedly confirmed that no new oil, gas, or coal fields are compatible with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5ºC, yet countries around the world continue to approve new fossil fuel fields and infrastructure. The WEO warns that today’s oil and gas investments are nearly double what is needed in the NZE scenario in 2030. Oil Change International’s latest research shows that even beyond stopping fossil fuel expansion, 60% of fossil fuels in existing fields must stay in the ground to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.
The WEO reinforces that some of the world’s wealthiest governments, key among them the United States, are driving new oil and gas extraction – despite having a clear responsibility to lead in phasing it out. For example, this year’s WEO documents that the U.S. is responsible for over 90% of gas export projects approved since the start of 2022, all of which are incompatible with the NZE scenario. Oil Change International’s recent Planet Wreckers report found the U.S. alone could be responsible for over one-third of carbon pollution caused by planned new oil and gas extraction through 2050. Oil Change International analysis also shows the U.S. has approved over $1.5 billion for six fossil fuel projects in 2023, breaking a key promise to end international public finance for fossil fuels.
Governments must put a stop to oil and gas expansion now to avoid locking in new carbon and methane pollution for decades into the future, and commit at COP28 to a fast, fair, and fully funded phase-out of fossil fuels.
Kelly Trout, Research Director, Oil Change International, said:
“What this year’s World Energy Outlook underscores is that the takeoff of renewable energy is keeping the path to a livable climate open, but it will close quickly unless governments commit to phase out fossil fuels now. We can’t solve the climate crisis by adding renewable energy on top of new fossil fuels – we need to rapidly replace and phase out all fossil fuels, including gas.
“There is a massive and deadly gap between current policies, which still lead to higher oil and gas use in 2030 than today, and the rapid declines in fossil fuels required to stave off runaway climate disaster. Every investment in new oil and gas infrastructure is an investment in more methane leaks, more warming, and more of the extreme heat, floods, fires, and drought destroying communities and ecosystems.
“The WEO has given a clear roadmap for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change COP28 negotiations: limiting warming to 1.5°C requires a clear decision on a fast, fair, and fully funded end of fossil fuels as well as a rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency, with wealthy countries in the lead and paying their fair share for a just energy transition. There is sufficient public money to do this. Governments must start by shifting their support from fossil fuels to the renewable and equitable future we need.”