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Watershed Moment in Climate Diplomacy

Such moments don't come around too often in the slow world of climate diplomacy, but the International Energy Agency's first comprehensive scenario to align the energy sector with limiting global heating to 1.5C is a major turning point and, therefore, very good news.

It found that all new oil, methane gas and coal exploration projects must stop now if the energy sector is to reach net zero emissions by 2050, precluding gas as a 'bridge fuel' in the energy transition.

The message, of course, is not new. But coming from the IEA, which is funded by oil-producing nations, the report is a call to action for investors and policymakers to face the inevitability of a managed decline of dirty energy.

The IEA's net zero scenario certainly puts pressure on the G7 group of rich nations to agree strong language on the need to phase out fossil fuel financing when they meet shortly. Indeed, the G7 has just vowed to stop all new financing for overseas coal projects by the end of this year, in a breakthrough in the global effort to fight climate change. The strongly worded statement sets the stage for more climate pledges when G7 country leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden, meet in Cornwall next month.

Spain has joined a small group of nations already taking the lead. Its new climate law bans all new coal, gas and oil exploration and production permits and sets a 2042 end date for the production of fossil fuels. Major fossil fuel producers are yet to follow.


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