The oil companies’ scenarios are not enough to reach the Paris Agreement

Shell, BP and Equinor have all published plans on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally. But their scenarios are not enough if the goal is to limit that warming to below 1.5 degrees, new research shows.

Since 2015, the countries of the world have agreed to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees and preferably below 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times.

In November 2016, the Paris Agreement also entered into force.

The global average temperature is already today about 1 degree higher compared to 1850–1900which increases the likelihood of several extreme weather situations, that the polar ice caps melt and sea levels rise.

Six scenarios – only one meets the climate goals of the Paris Agreement

Researchers at the German Climate Analytics and the Australian University of Melbourne have taken a closer look at six scenarios for emission reductions.

The scenarios come from the energy companies Shell, BP and Equinor as well as the international energy agency IEA. The researchers’ conclusion is that only one scenario would lead to being able to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, and that is the IEA’s “Net Zero by 2050”.

BP’s Whiting refinery in Chicago, USA. In December 2021, the company had to pay a fine of 500,000 dollars for the emissions of particles that exceeded the limit. Photo: DroneBase via AP/TT

In other cases, you will be far from achieving the goal.

– In general, we know that our energy systems must ultimately leave fossil fuels behind, if global warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees. These companies have published visions of how it should be done, but it is not so transparent in terms of how they evaluate whether the visions really meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, explains the study’s lead author Robert Brecha for Ny Teknik.

The group has developed an analysis tool that should make it easier for both researchers and decision-makers to investigate whether a scenario is compatible with the climate goals or not. As an example, you can look at how many gigatons of carbon dioxide a company states they will emit each year until 2050 and see if it is actually in line with the Paris Agreement.

Robert Gap, Climate Analytics. Photo: Robert Gap

The question of what counts as meeting the Paris Agreement’s climate goals is quickly becoming complicated. One criterion could be whether one manages to stay below the 1.5-degree target before the end of this century. Should it then also count as having met the goal if, during a period before that, you far exceed the 1.5 degree goal, but manage to reach the right levels by 2100?

– Previous research has shown that it is not a good way to go, because it can have enormous negative consequences if you go above 1.5 degrees even for a limited period. It is an extreme example, but shows the complexity of the issue, says Robert Brecha.

The difference is how quickly the transition must take place

What differentiates the IEA’s scenario compared to the others is how much fossil fuels are allowed in the short term, the amount of natural gas and coal and to some extent oil.

– The key is how quickly you move away from natural gas and coal. No scenario that we have looked at assumes that everything will continue as usual. All point to a fairly rapid energy transition, which will be challenging to implement. But the difference in terms of whether the Paris Agreement’s goals are met or not is the speed with which the transition takes place, explains Robert Brecha.

What contribution do you think your study makes?

– That we create transparency in the process, which makes it possible to evaluate different climate scenarios so we can say which ones are compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement and which ones are not. And that others get access to our tool and can do the same type of survey, says Robert Brecha.

Gaurav Ganti, Climate Analytics Foto: Climate Analytics

Research colleague Guarav Ganti emphasizes that the global temperature increase is already creating problems for people, animals and vegetation. Even an increase of 0.1 degrees has negative consequences.

– It is an increase that may seem trivial in scale, but it has a non-trivial impact on the climate. Part of this exercise in transparency that we have now done through this study and with the help of our tool is to emphasize this. We are creating a basis for a more well-founded discussion, he says.

The study has been published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Source: Nyteknik – Senaste nytt by

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