Not fast enough: Energy Transition Outlook report
Even with the rapid changes in decarbonization and energy intensity, CO2 emissions are still at about half of today’s level in 2050. Extrapolating the trends, DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook 2019 -report points towards 2.4-degree warming of the planet by the end of this century, over the preindustrial average – a level considered dangerous by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and the world’s scientific community.
DNV GL's Outlook points towards a 2.4ºC warming of the planet by the end of this century. The energy future we forecast is thus unequivocally not fast enough. What can be done according to the report?
- We could, from this day forward, generate all our electricity from renewable sources. Sadly, if this was all we did, we would still fall short of the 2-degree goal.
- We could start using less energy, reducing energy intensity at a much higher speed than the 2.5% we forecast. But annual reductions would need to be 4.8% a year to achieve 2-degrees, which we consider unrealistic.
- We could capture carbon in enormous quantities. But even if all emissions associated with fossil-fuelled power stations were to be captured, that alone would not be enough. And, given the snail-paced development of CCS worldwide it appears to be a particularly slender straw to clutch at.
- In our best estimate forecast, the remaining 1.5°C carbon budget is exhausted in 2028 and the 2°C carbon budget will also be exhausted before 2050, when emissions still are 24 Gt/yr, the report states.
Not fast enough
According to the report, very high carbon prices would force a faster transition, but as the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) in France reminded the world in 2018, it would be a hard sell politically.
There is, therefore, no silver bullet. If the world is to avoid dangerous warming, policies must be developed to tackle at least three fronts simultaneously: higher energy efficiency, more renewables, and industrial-scale CCS.
The battle against climate change is not only confined to energy, the report notes. Policies on land use as well as mandating and encouraging the circular and sharing economies are also critical, as will be incentivizing behavioural change towards lower consumption of goods and services with a high carbon footprint.
Last year’s IPCC report highlighted that every tenth of a degree of warming matters greatly in terms of climate impact: there are dramatic differences in holding global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C. The technologies to deliver the 1.5-degree target exist: if they are deployed rapidly, their costs will fall quickly, setting up a self-reinforcing effect. However, this can only succeed if enabling policies – for the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement - are dramatically strengthened and
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