Current energy transition pace would lead to over 3°C temperature rise, report says

Annual energy efficiency gains of 2 per cent will not enable countries to hit net zero targets, TotalEnergies says

Smog in New Delhi. India has committed to reaching net-zero emmissions by 2070. AFP
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The current pace of energy transition would result in a temperature increase of more than 3°C by 2100 and is therefore “unsustainable”, France’s TotalEnergies said in a report on Tuesday.

The Paris Agreement calls for the limiting the rise of global temperatures to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Energy efficiency gains of 2 per cent per year – the average of the last five years – is not enough to enable countries that are aiming for net zero by 2050 and China, the world's second-largest economy, to achieve climate targets, the report said.

The US, the UK, the EU, Canada and Japan aim to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. China has committed to net zero by 2060 while India has committed to reaching that goal by 2070.

If current trends continue, global investments in low-carbon energies in the Global South, which refers broadly to the regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania, would not be sufficient.

The collective challenge is the move away from “Current Course and Speed” scenario, which is based on existing trends in the energy transition, without compromising growth in emerging countries, said Helle Kristoffersen, president, strategy & sustainability, TotalEnergies.

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TotalEnergies' “Momentum” scenario results in a temperature increase of 2.1°C to 2.2°C by 2100.

This scenario implies energy efficiency gains of 2.4 per cent annually until 2050, the green electrification of road transport as well as the phasing out of coal in advanced economies.

Natural gas is used as a transition energy for electricity and industry in all countries, with fossil fuels still covering half of the growth in energy demand.

The “Rupture” scenario, which leads to a temperature increase of less than 2°C, implies an increased penetration of electricity and renewable energy in the Global South and an even more significant reduction of coal in China and developing economies.

“This transition will not happen without rich countries supporting [the] Global South by promoting a just energy transition,” the report said.

Global renewable power capacity will need to reach more than 11,000 gigawatts by the end of the decade, with solar and wind accounting for about 90 per cent of the growth, to meet the Paris Agreement goal, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), Cop28 presidency and the Global Renewables Alliance said in a report last month.

Renewable energy is expected to make up nearly half of the global electricity mix by 2030 under current policies, but “stronger” measures would be required to meet global climate goals, the International Energy Agency said last month.

By the end of the decade, there will be 10 times as many electric cars on the road worldwide, with the share of renewable energy in power generation rising to 50 per cent from 20 per cent now, the Paris-based agency said in its World Energy Outlook.

Heat pumps and alternative electric heating systems are forecast to surpass the sales of fossil fuel boilers globally by 2030.

Updated: November 14, 2023, 3:19 PM