For the first time, world demand for oil, gas and coal is forecast to peak this decade due to the "spectacular" growth of cleaner energy technologies and electric cars, the International Energy Agency's chief said.
The IEA's annual World Energy Outlook, due out next month, will show that "the world is on the cusp of a historic turning point", executive director Fatih Birol wrote in a column in the Financial Times.
There’s a taboo in the traditional energy sector against suggesting that demand for the three fossil fuels — oil, gas and coal — could go into permanent decline. Despite recurring talk of peak oil and peak coal over the years, both fuels are hitting all-time highs, making it easier to push back against any assertions that they could soon be on the wane. But according to new projections from the International Energy Agency, this age of seemingly relentless growth is set to come to an end this decade, bringing with it significant implications for the global energy sector and the fight against climate change. Every year, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook maps out potential pathways the global energy system could take in the coming decades to help inform decision-making. This year’s report, to be released next month, shows the world is on the cusp of a historic turning point. Based only on today’s policy settings by governments worldwide — even without any new climate policies — demand for each of the three fossil fuels is set to hit a peak in the coming years. This is the first time that a peak in demand is visible for each fuel this decade — earlier than many people anticipated.
With today’s policies already bringing the fossil fuel peaks into sight, decision makers need to be nimble. The clean energy transition may well accelerate even further through stronger climate policies. But the energy world is changing fast and for the better.