Reducing Demand For Fossil Fuel, Not Supply Curbs, Critical For Achieving Climate Goals

The pace of taking uncomfortable decisions by governments all across the world to persuade consumers to bring down energy consumption and thus helping in achieving climate targets has been very slow largely because of reluctance of consumers to compromise of their lifestyles and pay up higher prices.  

Even though there is increasing pressure on oil and energy companies to accelerate measures to reduce emissions, very little has been done by governments to try and reduce the demand for fossil fuels that cause global warming, said researchers, policymakers and energy executives at a Reuters Energy Transition conference earlier this week.

Most climate targets would be very difficult, if not impossible to achieve, because of a growing population in Asia and booming consumerism in industrialised nations.

Environmental proposals by governments aimed at cutting down carbon emissions in eth country were rejected by carbon emissions just this month. The proposal included raising a surcharge on car fuel and imposing a levy on flight tickets.

In order to develop net-zero targets by 2050. No new oil fields should be developed anywhere ion eth world, the International Energy Agency, the steward of energy policies in industrialised nations, said last month.

But if there is no change in global consumption patterns, net-zero targets would remain elusive, said IEA chief Fatih Birol this week.

“We see a widening gap between rhetoric and what is happening in real life,” he said. “So many governments are coming with net-zero targets by 2050 and the same year CO2 emissions are growing and it will be the second-largest increase in history”.

“Consumer behaviour needs to change as a result of government steps,” he said. After a steep fall in 2020 because of the Covid-19 induced lockdowns to slow the spread of coronavirus, there has been a sharp increase in emissions in 2021 so far.

Some very early steps to discourage short-distance travel by plane are being taken by the French government, said Birol. On the other hand, the current focus of the British government is to find out ways to revive the holiday season so that the airline and tourism industries can be salvaged.

More than 400 milestones about what is required to be done and what should happen so that the world is able to achieve net-zero targets by 2050 have been drawn up by the IEA, Birol said, and added changes in demand and not supply should be the driver for more than 95 per cent of those milestones.

But since there is no industry-wide, country-wide or global policy approach to making some of those demand side milestones, such as a ban on internal combustion engines car sold by 2030 or 50 per cent of aviation fuels coming from non-fossil fuels by 2040, a reality.

The developing nations have been repeatedly criticised by the International Monetary Fund for spending hundreds of billions of dollars to subsidise diesel and gasoline and make them cheaper for the poor.

According to Kelly Sims Gallagher, professor of energy and environmental policy at The Fletcher School. The hardest sector to decarbonize would be the transport sector – not for technical reasons but for political ones as well as economic,  business model reasons and due to lack of societal acceptance.



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