How fast is renewable energy rising and fossil fuel use declining? Who’s using how much energy – and for what? Find out in our quick graphical guide to the world energy scene
How we can transform our energy system to achieve net-zero emissions Fatih Birol interview: Using energy isn’t evil – creating emissions is How the fossil fuel era ends – and four possibilities for what follows
To limit global warming to a nominally safe level of 1.5°C as laid out in the 2015 Paris climate agreement, we must replace fossil fuels with practically inexhaustible, clean, renewable alternatives, primarily derived from sun, wind and water. The aim is to hit net-zero carbon emissions – pumping no more carbon dioxide into the Earth system than it can absorb – by mid-century.
A lot of changes will be needed before we get there. Our demand for energy is still rising year-on-year. Discounting the burning of traditional biomass such as wood, fossil fuels cover almost 85 per cent of “primary” energy demand, namely energy in its raw form, before conversion into heat, electricity or transport fuels. Of the big three fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – only demand for coal is falling. More of the increase in primary energy consumption in 2019 was covered by fossil fuels than by renewable resources.