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The Great Game in the Mediterranean

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As we have repeatedly stressed, the discovery of large gas fields off the coast of Israel, Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon, has meant that the Eastern Mediterranean plays an important role in the geopolitics of energy. in the deep offshore it is only profitable in the long term and presents significant technical and economic challenges. Not only that: the political power that governs this area of ​​the eastern Mediterranean rests with three authorities with whom it is necessary to deal, whose economic interests may diverge in the time. This reality puts a strain on the future prospects of this area, at least until the political dimension has been resolved in a secure way.

Large deposits of natural gas have been discovered in the EEZs of Egypt, Israel and Cyprus. The smaller EEZs of Syria and Lebanon have yet to be explored or confirmed. These discoveries in the eastern Mediterranean would have potential reserves of the order of 3.5 trillion cubic meters of gas, of which about half are proven reserves equivalent to those still available for Norway after thirty years of supply from the European Union. In particular, almost at the same distance from the coasts of their country, are the three deposits of Zohr (Egypt), Leviathan (Israel) and Aphrodite (Cyprus) respectively with proven reserves of 850, 450 and 140, for a total of 1,440 billion. of cubic meters. The leaders of these three countries came together to consider a common solution to commercialize this gas for export. There has been talk of the construction of an underwater gas pipeline to Greece and Italy, which would be a direct competitor of the Azerbaijani gas that crosses Turkey.

At the same time, the governments of Turkey and Libya have demarcated their EEZ borders, invading the EEZs of the countries listed above, creating additional sources of uncertainty and legal complications. Finally, Turkey’s show of strength by sending seismic vessels in preparation for exploration operations in the Greek EEZ only added to an already tense geopolitical climate. All these factors of uncertainty and potential conflicts are not conducive to the development of gas production in this area of ​​the eastern Mediterranean. This situation does not prevent Egypt and Israel from producing, consuming and exporting gas from fields near their coasts, the ownership of which is not in question.

We come now to Turkey. It must be emphasized that there is a geographical misunderstanding: the great discovery announced on 21 August 2020 by President Erdogan is not located in the Mediterranean, but in the Black Sea. This is the Sakarya field located about 170 kilometers north of the Turkish coast. with a water depth of 2,110 meters and a total depth of 4,775 meters. According to public information, it was discovered by drilling a single well, the Tuna-1, carried out by the exploration ship Fatih (“the conqueror”, in Turkish). The reserves, initially announced at 800 billion cubic meters, were revalued by the operator TPAO (Turkish Petroleum Corporation) to 320 then to 405 billion cubic meters on 17 October 2020. A second Turkali 1 drilling is scheduled for November. A second exploration vessel, the Kanuni (“the legislator” in Turkish) is about to reach the Black Sea.

Sakarya has the advantage of being close to the Turkish market. If produced, its gas will supply the Turkish market, strengthen the country’s security of supply and improve its trade balance.

However, putting Sakarya into production in 2023 is a goal that ignores the timing of the gas industry. This finding will need to be confirmed before moving on to the design and construction of the production phase facilities of the project.

Let us not forget that Turkey’s ambitions are multidimensional and multifaceted. They have a direct impact on Europe from the Atlantic to the Caucasus via the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Obviously the geopolitical and religious dimensions take precedence over the others, and it is not clear whether they have their own strategic dimension or are simply tactics. That said, energy ambitions are very legitimate for any country, especially when it comes to security of gas supply.

Turkey’s gas supply is between 45 and 50 billion cubic meters per year; it is well diversified. The gas arrives west from the Turk Stream, which will gradually replace the historical route through Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria, north from the Blue Stream across the Black Sea at a depth of 2,000 meters, to the east from the border with Iran and to the north- east from the border with Georgia for Azerbaijani gas. In addition, two terrestrial LNG terminals (Izmir Aliaga, Marmara Ereglesi) and two floating LNG terminals (Etki and Dörtyol) have a total reception capacity of around 25 billion of cubic meters, of which only half is used, which leaves considerable flexibility; they receive liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Algeria, Nigeria, Qatar and other sources, most recently shale gas from the United States.

As for the TANAP (Trans Anatolian Pipeline) recently put into service, 6 billion cubic meters per year of Azerbaijani gas will transit in a first phase to Greece, which represents just over 1% of the needs of the European Union. . This is what remains of the “Southern Corridor” project, once studied under the name “Nabucco”, promoted by the European Union to reduce the Russian influence in the gas supply.

In short, these discoveries of large natural gas fields have determined an evident conflict, exacerbating the geopolitical problems already existing in a region that is certainly not simple from a geopolitical point of view.

We think of the fact that Israel is at war with Lebanon and the two countries do not agree on the course of their respective exclusive economic zones (EEZs); Syria is in ruins, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues and the question of a possible EEZ for Gaza remains; Turkey still occupies the northern part of Cyprus, denies the island the right to have an EEZ and calls into question the Treaty of Lausanne which established, in 1923, the Greek-Turkish borders and finally, Libya is destabilized and at war civil, with foreign interventions that further complicate the stability of the region.

These discoveries considerably modify the energetic destiny of the states bordering the Levantine basin. Israel becomes a natural gas exporting power, Egypt initially meets its needs and plans to become a regional energy hub, Cyprus relies on its natural resources to achieve the reunification of the island. Similarly, Lebanon and Syria could consider exploiting their respective resources; Lebanon granted the first research / exploitation licenses and Syria did the same to the advantage, not surprisingly, of Russian companies. And once again Turkey plays a decisive role in this game.

But returning to Turkey, the occupation of the northern part of Cyprus (since 1974) is one of the components of the question. The novelty comes from Turkey’s reaction to the possibility of Cyprus exploiting the natural resources located in its EEZ. We recall that Cyprus delimited its EEZ with Egypt and Israel, signed with Lebanon and was in talks with Syria (before the conflict) on the basis of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982). The island then granted research / exploitation agreements to various companies. The American company Noble Energy, the Italian-Korean consortium ENI-Kogas, the French Total, alone or in joint venture with ENI, and the American ExxonMobil ally of Qatar Petroleum have obtained the licenses.

Turkey, for its part, claims that Cyprus, like all islands in the Mediterranean, does not have an EEZ. Ankara, which does not recognize the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, has an arbitrary position on the subject, a position of its own: it believes that the islands have no EEZs in closed or semi-enclosed seas. .

Despite Turkish threats to oil companies working with Cyprus, there have been numerous exploratory drillings in the country’s EEZ and significant discoveries of natural gas in exploitable quantities: Noble Energy (discovery of a field containing 100 to 170 billion cubic meters of natural gas in block 12), ExxonMobil with Qatar Petroleum (from 170 to 230 billion cubic meters in block 10) and ENI with Total (large field not yet quantified in block 6).

Faced with these findings, Turkey has become even more aggressive, sending exploration and drilling vessels into Cypriot waters, accompanied by warships. Turkey carried out eight illegal polls in the EEZ of Cyprus. Apply the tactic of encirclement in Cyprus by constantly maintaining pressure on it, with, ultimately, full control of the island. His latest provocation, apart from the almost constant invasion of his EEZ, was the opening to exploitation and finally the colonization, on 8 October, of the closed quarter of Famagusta, a port city emptied of its population in 1974 and left by a ghost city.

In conjunction with the threat to Cyprus, a growing threat to Greece is growing. Since 10 August 2020, Turkey has deployed its seismic ship Oruç Reis, accompanied by naval military forces, to the Greek maritime space, up to the coast of Crete, forcing Greece to do the same. Greece, France, Italy and Cyprus conducted a joint military exercise in the Eastern Mediterranean from 26 to 28 August, sending a clear message on the willingness of these countries to uphold respect for international law.

According to a statement by the French Ministry of Armed Forces, “Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy have decided to deploy a joint presence in the Eastern Mediterranean as part of the quadripartite cooperation initiative”. The Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, further specified that the Mediterranean “must not be a playground for the ambitions of some; it is a common good “.

The Turkish president specified on her part: “We will absolutely not make any concessions on what belongs to us. We urge our counterparts to […] beware of any mistakes that could pave the way for their undoing. Then he added: “Turkey will take what is rightfully its own in the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean […]. For this, we are determined to do whatever is necessary politically, economically and militarily.” The speech is was pronounced during a ceremony commemorating the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, which marks the entry of the Turks into Anatolia, following the victory of the Seljuk Sultan Alp Arslan over the Byzantines. The navies of the two countries are on the verge of clash August a Greek ship collides with a Turkish ship.

To the already complicated situation, Turkey has added a new element related to the Libyan conflict. Since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, Libya has entered an area of ​​instability in which many actors with diverging interests have submerged. Egypt, supported by the Emirates and Saudi Arabia, supports Marshal Haftar, who controls Cyrenaica. Russia is also in this field. On the contrary, Turkey, backed by Qatar, supports the Sarraj government, which controls the Tripoli region. Taking advantage of this support, Turkey signed two agreements (November 27, 2019) with the Tripoli master. One military, the other seafarer. The maritime continental shelf delimitation agreement between the two countries completely ignores the existence of Cyprus, Crete and other Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Furthermore, Erdogan’s desire to gain a foothold in the African continent and change the geopolitical situation in this area upsets many other international actors. Libya is for Turkey, one of the “entrances” to this space, hence his desire to establish permanent bases in this country.

This explosive geopolitical situation shows the need to develop cooperation in this troubled region. Cooperation between Cyprus, Greece and Israel quickly took shape. Others followed, involving Egypt and Jordan, again with the participation of Cyprus and Greece. Italy and France are also very present for the involvement of ENI and Total, but also to protect this common vital space that is the Mediterranean.

The signing, in early January 2020, of an interstate agreement between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, for the construction of the EastMed submarine pipeline, is one of the ambitious plans of this cooperation. At a cost of around 7 billion euros, this pipeline would allow the delivery of Cypriot and Israeli gas to mainland Greece, via Crete, and beyond to Italy and Western Europe (between 9 and 11 billion cubic meters / year, corresponding about 15% of European energy consumption in natural gas). Although economically this project is costly, geopolitically it is of utmost importance for building Europe’s energy independence. It should also be noted that in January 2019 the countries of the region created the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, which aims to manage the future gas market – a coalition that includes Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Italy, Jordan and Palestine. Turkey denounces that this could threaten its interests. However, three other positive developments occurred during the summer of 2020: Greece proceeded with the delimitation of its EEZ with Italy and Egypt and this delimitation, based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, obviously recognizes a EEZs for the islands.

Finally, the European Council reaffirms in its conclusions of 2 October 2020 its solidarity with Cyprus and Greece, specifying that sanctions would be adopted against Turkey if the latter continued to violate the EEZs of the two EU member countries ; Ankara immediately rejected the decision, saying its eastern Mediterranean research program would continue. Especially since the Oruc Reis is still in Cypriot waters and that Turkey has decided to open the closed district of Famagusta to exploitation, certainly for the purpose of imminent colonization, and this in violation of all the resolutions of international organizations. Turkey’s continued pressure on Cyprus is not only intensifying dangerously but Turkey is engaging in a lucid political projection of maritime power.

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Gas doom hanging over Ukraine

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The long history of gas transit across independent Ukraine began with Kiev’s initial failure to pay anything for Russian natural gas, both intended for transit to Europe and for domestic consumption, on the pretext of fraternal relations between the former Soviet republics. Later it cost the Ukrainians a meager $25 for 1,000 cubic meters of Russian gas, and that ridiculously small sum remained unchanged for quite some time. The sizeable amount of Russian gas provided at a discount price, plus domestically available oil resources, were distributed by the country’s greedy elite the following way: domestically produced gas was used on utilities, proceeds from the transit of Russian gas went to the state budget (minus the money that lined bureaucratic pockets), and Russian gas – to the industry (plus the corruption component).

Then came the Ukrainian revolutions and Kiev’s desire to join “Euro-Atlantic structures” and the desire to “get off the Russian gas needle and prevent the Kremlin from using energy as a weapon.” Ukraine has tried and is still trying to believe in all this by playing up to the collective West and hoping that the West will compensate Kiev for the losses caused by its revolutionary endeavors and anti-Russian antics. As a result, we see gas prices going through the roof, an energy crisis in Europe, and the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

Those in power in Kiev hoped for the very last moment that the West valued their country more than it did the energy security of European countries. Much to their surprise (and only theirs), this is not so. It looks like the Europeans are interested in Russian gas supplies and are not so eager to keep Ukraine as the main transit country. Moreover, having “democratized Ukraine” to the state of an openly anti-Russian country, the West turned it into a country, whose leadership the Kremlin does not really want to talk to simply because it does not see any point in doing this. This is the reason why third countries care (or rather pretend to care) about Ukraine. Thus, in July of this year, there came out the “Joint Statement of the United States and Germany on Support for Ukraine, European Energy Security and Our Climate Goals.” According to it, Germany pledged to do everything in its power to make sure that the agreement between Moscow and Kiev on the transit of Russian gas across Ukrainian territory was extended for up to ten years. The statement came when it was already obvious that the construction of Nord Stream 2 would be completed, Germany resisted US pressure on this issue, Moscow paid no attention and Washington, exhausted by the battles of the presidential elections and the search for new strategies in the Old World, was trying to pit America’s European friends against Russia.

It has never been a secret that the West needs reliable transit, and this is something that Ukraine also insists on. However, Kiev has officially labelled  Russia as an “aggressor country,” which means that this very “aggressor” must ensure this transit and bring billions of dollars in revenues to the Ukrainian budget. This looks like a kind of “Euro-schizophrenia” where Ukraine is an anti-Russian country and simultaneously serves as a reliable transit country for Russian gas. Things do not work this way, however, and it looks like Europeans are beginning to realize this. Therefore, most of the European consumers support Nord Stream 2 even though they do not show this in public. Suffice it to mention the recent conclusion of a years-long contract for gas supplies to Hungary.

Vladimir Putin’s statement, made amid soaring gas prices and growing threats to European industry, came as an energy lifeline for all Europeans.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the initiative of Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak to increase gas supply on the market amid rising energy prices in Europe… Novak said that Russia can stabilize the situation with prices by providing additional volumes of gas on the exchange, adding that this country’s main priority is to accommodate domestic demand,” Lenta.ru reported.

Commenting on the possibility of increasing gas supplies via Ukraine, President Putin recalled that Ukraine’s gas transport system had not been repaired “for decades” and that “something could burst” there any time if gas pressure goes up.

“At the same time, it is more profitable and safer for Gazprom to operate new pipeline systems,” he added. Putin thus confirmed what is already clear to all that Ukraine is an unreliable and, in fact, an extra link, and that Europe can get gas bypassing technically and politically unreliable Ukrainian pipes. He also pointed out that Gazprom would suffer losses from an increase in gas transit via Ukrainian territory, while new gas pipelines offer cheaper transit options. He added that Gazprom is saving about $3 billion a year by using new pipelines and that Russia was ready to increase gas supplies and make them cheaper for European consumers.

Gas shortages have already forced the Ukrainian government to freeze gas prices for household consumers, but prices for gas for industrial enterprises are rising along with those on European exchanges, where on October 6, they reached a very impressive $ 2,000 per thousand cubic meters and went down only after Putin’s statement came out.

Meanwhile, the head of Ukraine’s Federation of Glass Industry Employers, Dmitry Oleinik, said that this [rise in gas prices – D.B.] would lead to an inevitable rise in prices. However, producers will not be able to jack up prices indefinitely, because at some point buyers simply will not be able to cover production costs.

“The Ukrainian consumer will not even be able to cover the cost of production. Plants and factories will slowly shut down and people will lose their jobs – this is already very serious. Budget revenues will “plummet,” and expenses will skyrocket… The issue of bankruptcies is just a matter of time,” Oleinik warned.

If Ukraine continues to follow the chosen course, it will face de-industrialization. By the way, this will suit the West, but certainly not the Ukrainian industrial oligarchs, who have long been eyeing agriculture, including the prospect of turning themselves into land barons. However, the farming sector will not be happy about the high prices on gas that bakeries, sugar factories and greenhouses run on. There will be nowhere to run.

Apart from purely practical realities, the conclusions I can draw from the current energy situation in the world and Vladimir Putin’s statements regarding the Ukrainian transit, are as follows:

  • Gas supplies through Ukraine and to Ukraine are not solely an economic issue, given Kiev’s endless anti-Russian escapades;
  • This problem affects the energy security of Europe;
  • Since there are several angles to this problem, it must be solved in a comprehensive manner;
  • At the same time, this cannot be done exclusively in the interests of the West and Ukraine to the detriment of the interests of Russia.

As you can see, it is once again up to Kiev and its shadow patrons to decide. And winter is just around the corner…

From our partner International Affairs

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Russian Energy Week: Is the world ready to give up hydrocarbons?

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In an official message to mark the opening of the Russian Energy Week international forum on 13-15 October in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that there are numerous issues on the agenda related to current trends in the global energy market, including improvements to industry infrastructure and the introduction of modern digital technologies into its operation.

“The efficiency of energy production and consumption is the most important factor in the growth of national economies and has a significant impact on people’s quality of life. Many countries have already adopted policies to accelerate the development of clean energy technologies,” he wrote in the message to guest and participants.

“The forum business programme is therefore set to look in detail at the possibility of developing green energy based on renewable sources and the transition to new, more environmentally friendly fuels. I am confident that the events of the Russian Energy Week will allow you to learn more about the achievements of the country’s fuel and energy sector, and that your initiatives will be put into practice,” Putin said.

Leaders of foreign states have also sent greetings to the participants and guests. For instance, President of the Republic of Angola João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, Prime Minister of Vietnam Pham Minh Chinh, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Armed Forces Mohamed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and Vice Premier of the State Council of China Han Zheng.

In their greetings, it generally noted the importance of the topics to be discussed at the forum as well as the need to build an international dialogue and consolidate efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals, including as regards climate change.

The programme covers a wide range of issues of transformation and development in the global energy market. In the context of energy transition, the issues of energy development are inextricably linked with the introduction of new technologies, and the transformation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Climate protection is a task that cannot be solved by one country; it is a global goal, which can be achieved through building dialogue and cooperation between countries.

The participants in the discussion will answer the question: Is the world ready to give up hydrocarbons? In addition, during the panel session, the participants will discuss whether oil, gas and coal are really losing ground in the global energy sector; whether the infrastructure will have time to readjust for new energy sources; how long will there be enough hydrocarbons from the field projects that are being implemented; and whether an energy transition using fossil fuels is possible.

The international climate agenda is forcing many countries to reform their carbon-based energy systems. For Russia, which holds a leading position in the global hydrocarbon markets, the transition to development with low greenhouse gas emissions presents a serious challenge, but at the same time it opens up new opportunities for economic growth based on renewable energy, hydrogen technologies, advanced processing of raw materials and implementing green projects.

The Climate Agenda included sessions dedicated to the operation of the Russian fuel and energy sector in the context of energy transition, the impact of the European green pivot on the cooperation between Russia and Europe, as well as the session titled ‘The Future of Coal in a World Shaped by the Climate Agenda: The End, or a New Beginning?’

Sessions of the ‘New Scenarios for the Economy and the Market’ track are dedicated to the global challenges and opportunities of the electric power industry; the impact of ESG on the Russian fuel and energy sector; the potential for the renewable energy sources; and other issues of the future of energy.

The Russian Energy Agency under the Ministry of Energy brings together experts from key international analytical organizations to discuss the future of world energy during the session titled International Energy Organization Dialogue: Predicting the Development of Energy and Global Markets.

The Human Resource Potential of the Fuel and Energy Sector, participating experts will discuss the prospects for developing the professional qualification system, and a session titled Bringing the Woman’s Dimension to the Fuel and Energy Sector. Optimizing regulation in the energy sector and organizing the certification and exchange of carbon credits in Russia are the basis of the Regulatory Advances in Energy. 

Anton Kobyakov, Advisor to the Russian President and Executive Secretary of the Russian Energy Week 2021 Organizing Committee, said “the level of various formats of international participation testifies to the importance of the agenda and Russia’s significant role in the global energy sector. We are a reliable strategic partner that advocates for building international cooperation based on the principles of transparency and openness. With the period of major changes in the industry, it is particularly important to engage in a dialogue and work together to achieve both national and global goals.”

The forum, organized by the Roscongress Foundation, the Russian Ministry of Energy, and the Moscow Government, brought together many local and foreign energy and energy-related enterprises. The speakers attending included  Exxon Mobil Corporation Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO Darren Woods, Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG Chairman of the Board Ola Kallenius, BP CEO Bernard Looney, and TotalEnergies Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné.

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World Energy Outlook 2021 shows a new energy economy is emerging

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A new energy economy is emerging around the world as solar, wind, electric vehicles and other low-carbon technologies flourish. But as the pivotal moment of COP26 approaches, the IEA’s new World Energy Outlook makes it clear that this clean energy progress is still far too slow to put global emissions into sustained decline towards net zero, highlighting the need for an unmistakeable signal of ambition and action from governments in Glasgow.

At a time when policy makers are contending with the impacts of both climate change and volatile energy markets, the World Energy Outlook 2021 (WEO-2021) is designed as a handbook for the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, which offers a critical opportunity to accelerate climate action and the clean energy transition. The new analysis – which the IEA is making available for free online – delivers stark warnings about the direction in which today’s policy settings are taking the world. But it also provides clear-headed analysis of how to move in a well-managed way towards a pathway that would have a good chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C and avoiding the worst effects of climate change.

The WEO-2021, the IEA’s annual flagship publication, shows that even as deployments of solar and wind go from strength to strength, the world’s consumption of coal is growing strongly this year, pushing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions towards their second largest annual increase in history.

“The world’s hugely encouraging clean energy momentum is running up against the stubborn incumbency of fossil fuels in our energy systems,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director. “Governments need to resolve this at COP26 by giving a clear and unmistakeable signal that they are committed to rapidly scaling up the clean and resilient technologies of the future. The social and economic benefits of accelerating clean energy transitions are huge, and the costs of inaction are immense.”

The WEO-2021 spells out clearly what is at stake: what the pledges to reduce emissions made by governments so far mean for the energy sector and the climate. And it sets out what needs to be done to move beyond these announced pledges towards a trajectory that would reach net zero emissions globally by mid-century – the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario from the landmark IEA report published in May, which is consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.

As well as the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, the WEO-2021 explores two other scenarios to gain insights into how the global energy sector may develop over the next three decades – and what the implications would be. The Stated Policies Scenario represents a path based on the energy and climate measures governments have actually put in place to date, as well as specific policy initiatives that are under development. In this scenario, almost all of the net growth in energy demand through 2050 is met by low emissions sources, but that leaves annual emissions still around today’s levels. As a result, global average temperatures are still rising when they hit 2.6 °C above pre-industrial levels in 2100.

The Announced Pledges Scenario maps out a path in which the net zero emissions pledges announced by governments so far are implemented in time and in full. In this scenario, demand for fossil fuels peaks by 2025, and global CO2 emissions fall by 40% by 2050. All sectors see a decline, with the electricity sector delivering by far the largest. The global average temperature rise in 2100 is held to around 2.1 °C.

For the first time in a WEO, oil demand goes into eventual decline in all the scenarios examined, although the timing and speed of the drop vary widely. If all today’s announced climate pledges are met, the world would still be consuming 75 million oil barrels per day by 2050 – down from around 100 million today – but that plummets to 25 million in the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario. Natural gas demand increases in all scenarios over the next five years, but there are sharp divergences after this.

After decades of growth, the prospects for coal power go downhill in the Announced Pledges Scenario – a decline that could be accelerated further by China’s recent announcement of an end to its support for building coal plants abroad. That move may result in the cancellation of planned projects that would save some 20 billion tonnes in cumulative CO2 emissions through 2050 – an amount similar to the total emissions savings from the European Union reaching net zero by 2050.

The differences between the outcomes in the Announced Pledges Scenario and the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario are stark, highlighting the need for more ambitious commitments if the world is to reach net zero by mid-century.

“Today’s climate pledges would result in only 20% of the emissions reductions by 2030 that are necessary to put the world on a path towards net zero by 2050,” Dr Birol said. “Reaching that path requires investment in clean energy projects and infrastructure to more than triple over the next decade. Some 70% of that additional spending needs to happen in emerging and developing economies, where financing is scarce and capital remains up to seven times more expensive than in advanced economies.”

Insufficient investment is contributing to uncertainty over the future. Spending on oil and natural gas has been depressed by price collapses in 2014-15 and again in 2020. As a result, it is geared towards a world of stagnant or even falling demand. At the same time, spending on clean energy transitions is far below what would be required to meet future needs in a sustainable way.

“There is a looming risk of more turbulence for global energy markets,” Dr Birol said. “We are not investing enough to meet future energy needs, and the uncertainties are setting the stage for a volatile period ahead. The way to address this mismatch is clear – a major boost in clean energy investment, across all technologies and all markets. But this needs to happen quickly.”

The report stresses that the extra investment to reach net zero by 2050 is less burdensome than it might appear. More than 40% of the required emissions reductions would come from measures that pay for themselves, such as improving efficiency, limiting gas leakage, or installing wind or solar in places where they are now the most competitive electricity generation technologies.

These investments also create huge economic opportunities. Successfully pursuing net zero would create a market for wind turbines, solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, electrolysers and fuel cells of well over USD 1 trillion a year by 2050, comparable in size to the current oil market. Even in a much more electrified energy system, major opportunities remain for fuel suppliers to produce and deliver low-carbon gases. Just in the Announced Pledges Scenario, an additional 13 million workers would be employed in clean energy and related sectors by 2030, while that number doubles in the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.

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