Sep 14, 2023 - Energy & Environment

The world is way off track on climate goals

illustration of a greek statue rolling the earth up the hill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Prominent analysts just dropped a report that puts finer points on a reality many already suspect: the world is far from reaching Paris Agreement goals.

Driving the news: Some highlights from Wood Mackenzie's latest long-term outlook include estimates of the world's climate and how much it might cost to fix things.

  • Their "base case" — which models evolution of current policies and tech trends — shows warming of 2.5°C (4.5°F) above preindustrial levels. (Remember lots of awful stuff happens in a world that hot — even today's warming levels have dangerous effects.)
  • A pathway to "net-zero" emissions in 2050, consistent with the most ambitious Paris goal of 1.5°C, requires $2.7 trillion in annual investments.

State of play: Some kind of net-zero pledge covers 88% of global emissions.

  • But action isn't meeting ambition — no major country is even on track for 2030 interim targets, they find.
  • Renewables are growing fast but also face headwinds amid high interest rates, cost inflation and more.
  • A Paris-friendly pathway isn't just about more money. For instance, they cite urgent needs around permitting and supply chain constraints.

The intrigue: Wood Mac's estimates differ somewhat with the International Energy Agency.

  • IEA now sees oil and natural gas demand peaking this decade. Woodmac's "base case" sees oil demand peak in the early 2030s, and gas in the 2035-2040 timeframe, analyst David Brown told reporters.
  • A reminder: peaks matter less than what follows. Woodmac's base case sees oil demand at a robust 92 million barrels per day in 2050.
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