The Clear Reality of the Clean Tech Revolution

Oil companies and OPEC insist that we are going to need their product ad infinitum, but the International Energy Agency said in June this year that “a peak in oil demand is on the horizon” and “Growth is set to reverse after 2023 for gasoline and after 2026 for transport fuels overall.”

The IEA’s latest “World Energy Outlook,” out this week, makes what appears to be a bulletproof case for the looming demise not only of oil, but of coal and natural gas.  Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, is unequivocal:  “The transition to clean energy is happening worldwide and it’s unstoppable. It’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s just a matter of ‘how soon’ – and the sooner the better for all of us.” (This echoes what the IEA reported in December of last year in “Renewables 2022.” )

And that’s not all Dr. Birol had to say, speaking directly to the oil industry:  “I have a gentle suggestion to oil executives, they only talk among themselves.  They should talk to car manufacturers, to the heat pump industry, to the renewable industry, to investors — and see what they all think the future of energy looks like.”

Here’s what the IEA is tracking for the immediate future and to 2050:

(see slide #5 here)

These trends are based on what the IEA calls its Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS), extrapolating from what is in the pipeline today – as it were – from governments and the private sector.  However, the IEA also has a Net Zero Emissions by 2050 scenario (NZE) in which we get more ambitious.  In the NZE, there will be significantly more investment in clean energy:

(see slide #8 here)

So, it seems to me that our job is to push, pull, and proselytize in every way we can to make the leap from the STEPS to the NZE scenario.  As the People’s Climate Movement reminds us, “To Change Everything, We Need Everyone.”




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