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Weakened international institutions could have climate impact

Pipes at the gas compressor station in Velke Kapusany, Slovakia. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images

Part of Equinor's long-term global energy analysis, released late last week, looks eerily prescient after Trump's tumultuous weekend exit from the G7 summit.

The bottom line: The oil-and-gas giant warned that their "Rivalry" scenario — where geopolitical and trade conflict, weakened multilateral institutions and other forces erode efforts on climate — is looking more likely.

“Unfortunately, we currently see too many signs of the Rivalry-scenario. If continuing, they will negatively impact necessary global collaborative efforts and economic growth which are keys to drive the world in a sustainable direction.”
— Eirik Wærness, the company's chief economist, in a statement alongside the release
  • "Rivalry" — one of their three long-term forecasts — is a recipe for temperature increases that blow well past 2 degrees celsius. Global coal and oil demand are higher in 2050, while energy-related carbon emissions keep rising through 2040 and then plateau.

The big picture: Trump's G7 exit and tweets attacking Canada and European allies are a reminder of the shaken foundation of longstanding alliances.

  • On climate, even before abandoning the whole G7 summit communique, the U.S. of course didn't join the affirmation of the Paris agreement — or a subsequent section that more broadly promotes multilateral climate work.

Why this matters: The worldwide climate picture was already sobering without the latest strife. One key data point: global carbon emissions rose in 2017 after a three-year pause.

  • While major countries have re-affirmed their Paris commitment, the shift in the U.S. posture creates hurdles to the increasing worldwide climate ambition that analysts call needed to prevent highly dangerous warming.
  • Which brings us back to Equinor — even under their less ominous "reform" scenario, the global emissions pathway is badly inconsistent with the steep carbon cuts needed in decades ahead to stay within 2°C.

More: We looked at Equinor's forecasts for EVs here and on peak oil demand here.