"Beginning of the end" of fossil fuel era is here, says International Energy Agency

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"Beginning of the end" of fossil fuel era is here, says International Energy Agency

Demand for oil, natural gas and coal is now expected to peak before the end of 2030, says the International Energy Agency.

Oil fossil fuels sunset end

The world's leading global energy watchdog as forecast that demand for oil, natural gas and coal is set to peak before 2030 - with some prior analyses having previously pinned this landmark in the mid-2030s.

So, "the beginning of the end" is on the horizon, with that horizon drawing ever closer with the rapid growth of renewable energy and the accelerating uptake of electric vehicles.

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“We are witnessing the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era and we have to prepare ourselves for the next era,” IEA head Fatih Birol said of the projections, which will be published in the IEA's World Energy Outlook in October. “It shows that climate policies do work.”

Changing policy and huge investment

Policy is absolutely key as a driver of change and governments around the world have increased investments in renewables with climate change and the war in Ukraine in mind.

Prioritising energy security and combatting rising global temperatures have helped drive this recent acceleration in uptake of the likes of solar, wind and EVs, which has resulted in that revised 2030 peak for fossil fuel demand.

IEA head Fatih Birol said shifts in China's economy - the second largest in the world behind only the US - have also been a big factor.

“In the last 10 years China accounted for about one-third of the growth in natural gas demand globally and two-thirds of the growth in oil demand,” Birol said in the Financial Times. “Solar, wind and nuclear power will be eating up the potential growth of coal in China.”

Clean fuels make climate, and financial sense

Despite the positive change, Birol says more could be done by governments to accelerate things further through "stronger climate policies" to give the world a chance at limiting global warming to 1.5C.

Clean sources of energy are now trumping fossil fuels in terms of economic sense, too, highlights Birol.

“Oil and gas companies may not only be misjudging public opinion... they may well be misjudging the market if they expect further growth of oil and gas demand across this decade.

“New large scale fossil fuel projects carry not only major climate risks but major financial risks.

“We expect mid this decade global emissions will peak, but it is still far from reaching our climate goals even with additional policies.

“We can speed this up if we put the right new policies in place... It is in our hands.”