What else would we talk about this long weekend?
The most influential energy outfit in the world “called time” on the fossil fuel industry and spelled out the immense challenge facing the climate movement.
One simple sentence reverberated around the world: if we’re going to make it down the “narrow path” to net zero, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says, “there is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply.”
Bloomberg reported “the world has a choice — stop developing new oil, gas and coal fields today or face a dangerous rise in global temperatures.”
Bill McKibben thinks it’s a “crucial turning point in the climate era.”
It’s potent ammunition for campaigners pressuring governments and banks to live up to their climate promises. “Keep it in the ground” suddenly doesn’t sound radical at all.
The International Energy Agency might not be a household name, but it affects every household on the planet, along with every government and business. “What the IEA says matters,” the Financial Times explains. “Its forecasts are used by oil companies to shape investment strategies, by governments to create energy policies and by stock market investors who want to understand the future.”
That’s certainly true in Canada. The federal government is one of the agency’s member countries and has been since the 1970s when it helped set up the IEA to secure the world’s oil trade. The Alberta government has routinely promoted the agency’s data as “proof” oil and gas can grow even while the world tackles climate change. (The Kenney government is suddenly less keen — Energy Minister Sonya Savage told National Observer this week that the agency’s new report is “driven by activists.”)
The new Net Zero by 2050 roadmap is definitely awkward for governments and companies intent on continuing fossil production.
“Junk investments” is how the IEA’s executive director described new money going into fossil fuels.
Fatih Birol was refreshingly blunt: “Some investors, some governments can still go ahead and make investments in … new oil fields or opening new coal mines.
“This is up to them to decide. But this is not in line with reaching our climate targets.”
For the record, Birol is an energy economist who rose through the ranks at the IEA after a stint at OPEC. The report itself was a collaboration with the activists at the International Monetary Fund.
And here’s how they see the future for oil and gas.