The demand for oil, coal and gas will reach its peak before 2030. This is the conclusion reached by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in its new outlook, the World Energy Outlook 2023. Just a year ago, the IEA experts had assumed that that this peak will not be reached until the 2030s. SRF business editor Klaus Ammann knows the reasons for this change.
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The historian and Russian expert has been working as an editor at Radio SRF since 2004. Klaus Ammann has been working for the business editorial team since 2011. His focus is on energy and climate issues.
SRF News: How do the authors of the study come to the conclusion that demand for fossil fuels will peak earlier than they previously predicted?
Klaus Ammann: You have noticed that the expansion of renewable energy sources, especially solar and wind energy, is making rapid progress and at the same time the demand for energy is leveling off because electricity is playing an increasingly larger role, especially in transport, for example in electric cars. The electric motors are more efficient in using energy than gasoline and diesel engines. In addition, conflicts in regions that produce a lot of oil and gas – especially Russia and the Middle East – have increased the urgency of switching to renewable energy in many countries.
Less oil, coal and gas: a good sign for climate protection?
Basically yes. However, it must be seen that the developments of the three fossil energy sources are very different. According to the IEA, coal is expected to lose importance relatively quickly. But oil and gas will remain important for a very long time if, like the IEA, you look at the political measures currently adopted by the countries.
The head of the US oil company Chevron says openly that he does not believe in the IEA’s scenarios.
Demand will continue to increase in many developing countries for years to come. At the same time, demand in industrialized countries and China is expected to fall so sharply that the bottom line is that it will decline worldwide. However, greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas will continue to be far too high to achieve the Paris climate goals.
There are currently reports of oil giants continuing to invest in oil, for example in the USA. How does this fit into the IEA’s picture?
That doesn’t fit the picture. The US oil company Chevron, for example, recently took over competitor Hess in order to increase its own oil and gas production capacity by around ten percent. The head of Chevron says openly that he does not believe in the IEA’s scenarios. Demand for oil and gas will continue to rise worldwide.
The IEA has always been conservative in its forecasts for the expansion of renewable energies.
European corporations like Shell, Total and BP see it differently. In recent years you have also increasingly invested in renewable energies. They believe that politicians are serious about climate protection. It is clear that these are only forecasts, both from the IEA and from Chevron. However, it must be said that the IEA was always quite conservative in its forecasts for the expansion of renewable energies and that developments ultimately often progressed faster than the IEA predicted. Now the question arises as to whether the reverse will also happen with the decline of oil and gas.
The interview was conducted by Zoe Geissler.