Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, is shown speaking at conference in Oslo, Norway, on Tuesday. Birol has called on fossil fuel producers to do more to meet global goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases. Photo by Ole Berg-Rusten/EPA-EFE
Nov. 23 (UPI) -- The head of the International Energy Agency said Thursday oil producers must make a stronger commitment to clean energy efforts or continue to be among the world's biggest contributors to the worsening climate crisis.
IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said that in the run-up to next week's COP28 climate summit in Dubai, the fossil fuel industry needs to make a stark assessment of its role in the battle to meet goals for limiting global temperature increases.
"The oil and gas industry is facing a moment of truth at COP28 in Dubai," said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol in a statement. "With the world suffering the impacts of a worsening climate crisis, continuing with business as usual is neither socially nor environmentally responsible."
The IEA said even with today's projections with both oil and gas usage peaking by 2030, more decisive action is needed to decrease the demand for both.
If governments around the world fully commit on their existing carbon-reduction pledges, demand for oil and gas would fall by 45% below today's level by 2050, Birol noted.
While clean energy investments stand at about $1.8 trillion globally, the share contributed by the fossil fuel industry amounts to only 1% of the total, according to a new IEA report released on Thursday.
That makes the industry only a "marginal force" behind the energy transition.
Birol said oil and gas producers, which employ 12 million around the globe, must make "profound decisions" about their future place in the global energy sector. He said the climate change goals cannot be made without their commitment to make changes.
"[That] means letting go of the illusion that implausibly large amounts of carbon capture are the solution," Birol said. "This special report shows a fair and feasible way forward in which oil and gas companies take a real stake in the clean energy economy while helping the world avoid the most severe impacts of climate change."
The IEA said climate change goals can be reached but only if the oil and gas industry makes serious changes and "takes a real stake" in the clean energy economy.
Its report states that the oil and gas sector is "well placed to scale up some crucial technologies" for clean energy transitions, which would benefit them economically and make up some 30% of the energy consumed in 2050.