It is probably just ironic coincidence, but the same day the International Energy Agency (IEA) called on the world to end fossil fuel investments, the Australian government announced plans for a new, $460 million natural gas-fired power plant.
The stark contrast between the two announcements is, however, emblematic of the challenges the world faces in transitioning from fossil fuel energy to cleaner renewables as efforts to combat climate change become more urgent and widespread across the globe.
The IEA’s report on the pathway to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, released on May 18, warned that investment in oil, natural gas and coal projects must come to an end if the target has any chance of being reached.
There’s no doubt that this is a major call, and a substantive shift from prior IEA positions, but the main question is whether the IEA’s goal is even remotely achievable.
Certainly there is evidence and hope that the massive switch in energy sources needed for net zero emissions could be possible in parts of the developed world, most likely Europe and North America.
But the key to the success of the IEA’s goal to net zero is Asia, and here the agency’s proposed pathway faces its biggest challenges, and most likely failures.