Global fossil fuel use to skyrocket before falling drastically over next decade; India to reach 2030 emission targets easily: report

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Global fossil fuel use to skyrocket before falling drastically over next decade; India to reach 2030 emission targets easily: report
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Imagine a world without climate anxiety. A paradise where noiseless electric cars stroll behind each other in non-congested roads, and you never have to worry about inhaling their toxic fumes again. All climate activists carry this dream with them to bed every night but have to, unfortunately, wake up to regular studies on how we’ve already tipped the climate scale dangerously too far.
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However, a shimmer of hope has crept up from the cracks. A new climate study by BloombergNEF (BNEF) shows that there might be hope for reparative action, even though it might take slightly longer. The 2022 BNEF New Energy Outlook report assesses how the energy systems of nine critical countries that make up 63% of global emissions will likely progress in two scenarios in the coming years. The results are interesting, to say the least.

Economic Transition Scenario


The report describes the first scenario as the “Economic Transition Scenario” (ETS), where no new policy action has helped accelerate the current transition. In other words, this illustrates green energy technology to continue evolving and expanding at the same breakneck speed we’ve observed over the past decade, unaided by amplified climate policy action.

While this sounds like business as usual, the BNEF report outlines many crucial wins in the next few decades. By 2050, we can expect wind and solar power — two exemplary sources headlining the push towards green power generation and away from fossil fuels — to account for 75% of the world’s power generation.

Additionally, the report projects that major polluters such as global coal, oil and gas use to peak and fall drastically over the next few decades, signalling our transition into the next phase of clean power generation.

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However, since no new policy has clamped down on the exorbitant industrial emissions, we are still likely to miss the Paris warming goals by a long shot, reaching record highs of 2.6°C global warming by 2050.

Net Zero Scenario


To minimise the damage, the paper describes the “Net Zero Scenario” (NZS), which could help abate warming to 1.77°C by 2050. However, this will require an unprecedented amount of drastic changes in the fabric of global energy systems, as well as through extensive policy change.

Interestingly, the report outlines that despite the gigantic task, India, China and Indonesia could easily meet their emission targets to achieve both ETS and NZS by 2030, which is a massive win since these are some of the largest polluters in the world today.

While these countries are likely to take very distinct pathways towards net zero, developing nations such as India and Indonesia are more likely to see emissions rise over the next decade, while developed ones like the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia see extensive drops.

However, adopting the NZS could be tricky (but doable) due to the sheer amount of changes required. To make this viable, we will need to switch over 90% of power generation from fossil fuels to wind, solar, and other renewables by 2050. This transition will account for half of all abated emissions over the next thirty years.

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“To get on track this decade, there needs to be $3 invested in low-carbon supply for every $1 in fossil-fuel supply. There are also critical enabling factors to consider: electrification and economic growth will quadruple the planet’s power demand by 2050. We need to see a massive acceleration in the build-out of power grids, manufacturing capacity for low carbon technologies, and supply of critical metals and materials. These could become painful bottlenecks tomorrow, if left unaddressed today,” explains David Hostert, lead author of the report.

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To get on track this decade, there needs to be $3 invested in low-carbon supply for every $1 in fossil-fuel supply. There are also critical enabling factors to consider: electrification and economic growth will quadruple the planet’s power demand by 2050. We need to see a massive acceleration in the build-out of power grids, manufacturing capacity for low carbon technologies, and supply of critical metals and materials.
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To get on track this decade, there needs to be $3 invested in low-carbon supply for every $1 in fossil-fuel supply. There are also critical enabling factors to consider: electrification and economic growth will quadruple the planet’s power demand by 2050. We need to see a massive acceleration in the build-out of power grids, manufacturing capacity for low carbon technologies, and supply of critical metals and materials.