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IEA’s Net Zero By 2050 Report: Credible Roadmap Or Unhinged Advocacy?

June 23, 2021

By Paul Homewood


From Forbes:





It is a month since the International Energy Agency – the rich world’s energy advisory body established in the wake of the oil price shock of 1973 — issued its astonishing report calling for the end to all new investments in oil and gas (let alone coal) from 2021. As expected, the IEA “road-map” elicited widespread media coverage and strong reactions, ranging from gushing support from those convinced of a “climate emergency” to outright dismissal, as in the case of the Saudi oil minister who called the report a sequel to “La La Land”. Commentators on the IEA’s radical call against fossil fuel investments doubtlessly have their own share of biases and diverging interests. Yet the question remains as to just how credible is the IAE’s call for a complete transformation of the global energy system within two or three decades, a system which developed over two centuries and today relies on fossil fuels for 85% of its needs.

The IEA Roadmap

The IEA calls its report “the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050 while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access and enabling robust economic growth”. Its road-map, we are told, sets out “a cost effective and economically productive pathway” to a “resilient energy economy dominated by renewables like solar and wind instead of fossil fuels”. “Our roadmap”, the IEA states, “shows that the enormous challenge of transforming our energy systems is also a huge opportunity for our economies, with the potential to create millions of new jobs and boost economic growth.”

“But in taking up the mantle of green advocacy on behalf of its paymasters, the IEA faces the prospect of losing all credibility as an objective advisor on energy security for its OECD members.”

This best of all possible worlds promised by IEA will come about only if policy makers around the world do just what the roadmap requires. The 200+ page report can be summarized by three key milestones requisite to its ‘net zero by 2050’ vision: an immediate end to investments in all new oil and gas developments (coal, of course, is beyond the pale); a ban on all internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035; and a zero-emission power sector by 2040. These are “sensational” milestones, as one commentator put it somewhat mildly. For others, these recommended policy diktats are more in keeping  with the agenda of the radical fringe of environmental activism.

Full story here.

  1. Mad Mike permalink
    June 23, 2021 12:23 pm

    Have you noticed that over the years the assertions and demands of these alarmist organisations are getting more and more extreme as they encounter virtually no opposition. They are seeing what they can get away with and are doubling up. That’s why we are getting this piece of fantasy and only 7 years to save the Planet etc.

    • Sean permalink
      June 23, 2021 3:41 pm

      Exactly; I see lines like “This best of all possible worlds promised by IEA will come about only if policy makers around the world do just what the roadmap requires.” and read it as “Give us absolute control over the entire world’s energy production, and we’ll wave our magic wand and make it all better.” Sometimes it’s depressing to see how many different groups are promising to solve all of our (manufactured) problems if we’ll just let them take control of our lives.

    • Curious George permalink
      June 23, 2021 4:45 pm

      “An immediate end to investments in all new oil and gas developments.” Of course, not everybody will survive. By the way, the Executive Director looks rather prosperous.

  2. It doesn't add up... permalink
    June 23, 2021 12:46 pm

    I used to have some dealings with the IEA in the days when they used to worry about oil supply. They weren’t very practical even back then, e.g. not understanding that crude oil that is mostly asphalt is not much use for making gasoline, but they did at least have some interest in protecting Western energy supply.

    Now it appears they have been infiltrated by agents for the Chinese, who are the only likely beneficiaries of their proposals as they take over the fossil fuel resources the IEA wants us to abandon, and make us reliant on China for key resources for the attempt to transition – cobalt for batteries, neodymium for turbine generators, etc.

    They are now the Idiotic Extinction Agency.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      June 23, 2021 8:36 pm

      Idau: I was confused to see a claim the other say that the Chinese gave a very large holding in Bowland shale…confirmation required…

  3. Eddy Barrows permalink
    June 23, 2021 12:48 pm

    Every prediction about global warming or as it is now labelled climate change has come to nothing and yesterday we were informed that the temperature on the summer solstice was lower that that of the winter solstice which hardly points to dangerously escalating temperatures.
    The IEA must surely be aware that major nations such as China,Russia,India and many others have no intention of following this policy of political and economic suicide and when we see populations of the western world being forced against their better judgement to accept without argument their future energy needs depending solely on when the sun shines and the wind blows we must wonder who the real totalitarian states are.

  4. JimW permalink
    June 23, 2021 1:01 pm

    So the world is going to stop producing plastics?
    Crack a barrel of crude and you get all the by-products. so what exactly is going to happen to petroleum and gas products? Rather than have an explosion of price, are they going to have give the stuff away?
    Both scenarios look as equally likely to me.

  5. Peter F Gill permalink
    June 23, 2021 1:08 pm

    In relation to the Forbes title, without doubt the latter.

  6. Jack Broughton permalink
    June 23, 2021 1:12 pm

    As Mad Mike says the claims and stories are getting wilder as opposition is found not to exist in the mainstream meja. This appalling IEA report ought to have been shredded by opposition but will not be as the opposition has no platform. I’ve just been invited to a conference where biogas will apparently “help to prevent the climate disaster”. You could not make it up …… but they do!

  7. Broadlands permalink
    June 23, 2021 1:27 pm

    “In the IEA analysis of net-zero pathways, the need for CO2 storage grows from around 40 Mt/year today to more than 5000 Mt/year by mid-century. Carbon management services – transporting and storing CO2 in large quantities – would become a global industry supporting emissions reductions across multiple parts of the energy system.
    CO2 storage can enable deep emissions reductions and carbon removal.”

    Of course, the mid-century value is total tons, not per-year. But, 5000 million is not even one part-per-million. The climate would hardly notice the loss.

  8. Ray Sanders permalink
    June 23, 2021 3:46 pm

    Okay my best attempt at tabulating data that demonstrates the myth of “decarbonising” by using weather dependent renewables in the UK.

    Electricity generation by month compared year on year in TWh.

    Wind Solar Hydroelectricity

    Dec 2019 5.549 0.244 0.444
    Jan 2020 6.270 0.272 0.571
    Feb 2020 6.893 0.485 0.522
    Mar 2020 5.598 1.061 0.494
    Apr 2020 3.401 1.503 0.275
    May 2020 3.097 1.885 0.223

    Totals 30.758 5.45 2.469 Grand Total 38.677TWh
    Now look at one year on

    Dec 2020 5.275 0.209 0.444
    Jan 2021 4.908 0.236 0.343
    Feb 2021 5.770 0.465 0.284
    Mar 2021 4.780 0.873 0.365
    Apr 2021 2.774 1.493 0.317
    May 2021 3.254 1.885 0.210

    Totals 26.761 4.63 2.001 Grand Total 33.392TWh

    So for all the investment in increasing renewables the total generation has actually reduced
    by 13.7%. The “carbon intensity of the grid has actually increased NOT reduced.

    The data for June 2021 is for the situation to actually worsen as all three sources are running significantly down year on year as of 22nd June.

    Data from BMI reports.

    • Gamecock permalink
      June 23, 2021 7:38 pm

      I don’t doubt your data, I’d just say that the key data is their minimum, not their total or maximum. Electricity demand is not by month. Monthly totals ignores perpetual demand.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        June 23, 2021 10:29 pm

        In the end, large scale inter annual variations define storage needs. It’s relatively easy to store from a midday solar peak to cover overnight demand. Covering a day or two of even extremely low renewables output is only a bit harder. But it starts getting really hard when you look at interseasonal storage requirements, which dwarf these short term issues, and harder still when you look at covering say a 1 in 30 bad year, or a succession of years of under par performance from renewables. 2021 so far has been the worst year for renewables in the UK for a decade.

        In any scenario, you need essentially 100% backup in some form or other. It may come from very expensive storage solutions, or reliable dispatchable generation a.k.a. fossil fuels (not nuclear if you are going to have lots of renewables – it’s not suited to system balancing roles).

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        June 23, 2021 10:31 pm

        Footnote: I’ve run 30+ year simulations at hourly resolution to investigate the issues, based on historic weather data refactored.

  9. Eddy Barrows permalink
    June 23, 2021 4:45 pm

    Very interesting Ray.So we have to somehow persuade wind and solar when they are all we have to increase from 6% to 100% and if all other countries follow the IEA pied piper we will not even have the European interconnectors to bail us out.

    • Gamecock permalink
      June 24, 2021 10:44 am

      Or reduce your demand by 94%. Or, more likely, 6% is all you get. Use it wisely.

    • David Wojick permalink
      June 23, 2021 9:49 pm

      Sorry, IEA of course. IRA are terrorists. Oh wait!

  10. June 24, 2021 8:44 am

    just how credible is the IEA’s call for a complete transformation of the global energy system within two or three decades

    The bidding starts at 0%, and probably ends there too. The timescale isn’t even the main issue. And ‘global’ doesn’t mean what it says as various countries have little or no belief in what is advocated, but play along while their are few downsides to doing so and some benefits, now or later.

  11. dennisambler permalink
    June 24, 2021 12:34 pm

    The IEA report was part of the piece-by-piece strategy of preparing the ground for COP26 in Glasgow in November.

    The report-to-be was first announced in January this year:

    “The International Energy Agency today announced that it will produce the world’s first comprehensive roadmap for the energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 as it further strengthens its leadership role in global clean energy transitions.”

    It turns out that the IEA plan was requested by the UK government, according to a preamble from the IEA:

    “In line with an official request by the COP26 Presidency, the IEA is developing a new special report providing the first comprehensive energy-sector pathway towards global net-zero emissions by 2050. This report assesses the policy requirements, the deployment and innovation needs, the necessary investments, the economic benefits and the wider implications for the world”.

    The new special report, The World’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050, will set out in detail what is needed from governments, companies, investors and citizens to fully decarbonise the energy sector and put emissions on a path in line with a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is part of a series of new IEA projects to support efforts to reach global energy and climate goals.”

    It had a publishing date before they even started writing it:

    “This new roadmap will be released on 18 May and build momentum ahead of the COP26 Summit in Glasgow in November, under the presidency of the United Kingdom.

    COP26 President, UK’s Alok Sharma said: “The IEA’s plan to produce a pathway to net zero global emissions by 2050 is another important step for climate action. This will make clear the actions countries must take individually and collectively to meet that goal.”

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