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2016 November 15

WBA Fossil Exit Strategy



One year after the conference in Paris, the world is moving away from the targets of COP21.

The most embarrassing fact is the ongoing increase of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. This concentration reached 400ppm in 2014 for the first time in the human history. A value of 420 ppm is usually regarded as upper limit to keep a temperature rise below 2°C likely (Source: IPCC)

The main reason of this growing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is the huge inflow of CO2 emissions caused by burning fossil fuels. Moreover, the oil prices have dropped 50% in the past two years which is an incentive to use more fossil fuels and thus increase emissions further.

If the flow of CO2 emissions continues for another decade at the same pace, the threshold of 420 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere will be surpassed and the targets of COP21 agreement will be unreachable for centuries!
The world needs an exit strategy to leave fossil fuels, step by step and year by year. A minimum reduction path, in terms of fossil fuel energy consumption, would be from the current 463 EJ in 2013 to 300 EJ by 2030 and near zero by 2050.

At the same time, each country needs a strategy for fast deployment of renewable energy sources including solar, wind, bioenergy, geothermal and hydropower. The world must move towards a 100% renewable energy before 2050 to achieve the Paris COP21 targets.

Global use of fossil fuels (2013 - 2050)

Fossil exit strategy for Europe:

Similar to the global scenario, Europe is moving away from the targets of COP 21. In 2015, the emissions increased as compared to 2014. The EU targets for 2030 – reduction of 40% emissions as compared to 1990 and 27% renewable energy share - do not comply with the targets of COP 21. Europe also needs a fossil exit strategy to achieve the targets of Paris. The core of this strategy should be an exit path that distributes the burden of this fossil fuel replacement evenly over the present and coming generation.

A WBA proposal includes a step by step reduction of fossil fuel use and increasing use of renewable energy sources. According to this concept, 540 Mtoe renewable energy will be needed by 2030 which corresponds to 41% of renewables by 2030! This will ensure that Europe moves towards a 100% renewable energy future before 2050 and be a world leader!

Table1: Exit strategy for fossil fuels, EU 28 (2013 - 2030)
  Fossil fuels Renewables Nuclear and others Total
2013 1230 197 239 1666
2020 1000 298 230 1528
2025 800 419 210 1429
2030 600 540 190 1330
2045 Near Zero 750 100 900

Table 2: Paris agreement, the needed deployment of renewable energy by 2030
  Renewables Bioenergy Hydro Wind Solar Geothermal
2013 197 128 31.9 20.2 10.6 5.9
2030 540 251 48 116 105 20
Annual Growth (%) 5.9% 3.9% 2% 10% 16% 3.2%

The main instruments for such a global and European transition include:
  • A global carbon tax
  • Rapid deployment of solar, wind, biomass based electricity generation systems on Feed in Tariffs
  • Mobilization of biomass from forestry, agriculture and waste sectors, increased use of by-products and use of unused land to generate more biomass for heat, electricity and transport fuels
  • No new investments in fossil fuel infrastructure! Future investment should go to renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency and not to fossil fuels!
Download the summary here.

Download the FES paper here.