Sep 2, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Global fossil fuel decline won't be fast enough to meet Paris climate goals

World primary energy supply by source chart from 1990 and extending to 2050 based on trend predictions
Image via DNV Energy Transition Outlook

A multidecade energy outlook from the consultancy DNV finds that COVID has not been a turning point on climate.

Why it matters: "[F]rom an energy transition perspective, the pandemic has been a lost opportunity," they write.

"Recovery packages have largely focused on protecting rather than transforming existing industries."

The big picture: The projection sees surging clean energy and a long-term decline in fossil fuels, but not enough to meet Paris Agreement goals.

  • They conclude coal use has peaked. Oil is rebounding and reaches pre-pandemic levels around 2025, but then declines to 55% of current levels by 2050.
  • Natural gas will grow this decade, stay flat in the 2030s and then decline only slowly.

The bottom line: There's a "very short window to close the gap" between current trajectories and Paris, which aims to limit temperature rise to under 2°C above preindustrial levels and ideally 1.5°C.

Absent stronger action, they project the increase to reach 2.3˚C by 2100 — far below worst-case outcomes, but a level slated to bring highly destructive effects.

Go deeper