Three things you shouldn’t miss this week

  1. Chart: Is the global economy becoming less energy intensive?
  1. Article: Fossil fuel divestment is rational, says former Shell chairman – Mark Moody-Stuart is also worried about the lack of industry progress in addressing climate change.
  1. Article: BP sees ‘tectonic shift’ in world energy production – Energy consumption slows dramatically as China cutback and Opec battle US shale drillers.

 

This week the latest edition of the BP Statistical Review of World Energy noted two important trends.
 
  1. Renewables are still the fastest growing source of global energy
In 2014 global energy consumption growth fell to its lowest level since 1998: even better is that renewables made up 30% of that growth. While this is positive, the scale of the challenge can’t be underestimated: BP’s report shows that renewables still contribute just 3% of global primary energy.
 
Indeed, a new report from the IEA this week called for more policy supportfor the sector because the current rate of progress is not fast enough to meet the 2°C climate target. For the same reason, a group of scientists and economists led by Sir David King, former chief scientific advisor to the UK government, called for an Apollo-style mission to make renewable power cheaper than coal within a decade.
 
  1. Global greenhouse gas emissions growth has slowed to 0.5%
However, the emissions figures aren’t as positive as the IEA’s preliminary estimates which showed 2014 emissions stalling at 2013 levels. While it’s encouraging to see emissions growth starting to slow, we mustn’t forget that what we really need is a rapid decrease overall.
 
There has been some progress towards a meaningful emissions reduction agreement ahead of the climate talks in Paris in December. The G7 issued a statement committing some of the world’s richest nations to cuts of close to 70% of 2010 levels by 2050 – although the statement was light on detail.
 
The Norwegian parliament endorsed a decision to remove $900bn from its sovereign wealth fund in the largest ever fossil fuel divestment — a major blow to coal. And in Britain a group of 80 leading businesses called on the government to set an ambitious fifth carbon budget. Even big oil seemed to sense the direction of travel, as a group of European producers including Shell and BP issued an open letter calling for a global carbon tax to be introduced.
 
Former Shell Chairman Mark Moody Stewart dismissed the move as a gesture – “it is not new…they have been saying it for 15 years” – but agreed fossil fuel divestment is a “rational response” to climate change.
 
Related Reports and Commentary
Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2015 – International Energy Agency