OUR transition away from fossil fuel-based energy may be rapid, but it is not fast enough for the world to meet the temperature goals set in the Paris climate change agreement COP21, according to a leading international classification company.

In its outlook for 2019, Norwegian group DNV GL said policy, and not technology, is the problem achieving the maximum temperature increase of 1.5C or 2C above pre-industrial levels

The report forecasts a rapid transition helped by widespread electrification with more than 60% of power coming from renewable sources such as wind and solar, with the energy mix being split almost equally between fossil and non-fossil sources by the middle of this century.

It says oil will decline “steeply” after 2030, with gas taking over as the biggest energy source before it flattens out from the mid-2030s.

However, DNV GL says emissions will continue to rise until 2025 and will be far from net-zero by 2050.

Remi Eriksen, group president and CEO of DNV GL, says: “The energy transition is shifting up the agenda, moving from previously being considered important to now becoming something urgent; a source of great risk, but also of opportunity.

“Technology can deliver the future we desire – including meeting the 1.5°C warming ambition set out in the Paris Agreement. The critical questions are how and when that technology is to be applied, and the strength of decarbonisation policies.

“This year, we surveyed thousands of our readers regarding whether they think our forecast is too fast or too slow; the overwhelming response is that we have got it ‘about right’.”

The company says its customers are planning and building now the infrastructure that will deliver the world’s future energy needs for decades to come.

“While we predict a staggering growth in electrification, with wind and solar sources providing most of that electricity by 2050, the future that we forecast will not bring us in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement,” says Eriksen. “Global emissions from energy use will peak only in 2025 and will still be far from net zero by 2050. Limiting global warming to well below 2C needs extraordinary policy actions to advance energy efficiency, renewables, and carbon capture beyond our ‘best estimate’ future.”

He says DNV GL has made adjustments to its model, but adds: “We forecast a levelling off in global final energy demand after 2030 ... At that point – due to multiple converging efficiencies in the system, mainly related to pervasive electrification – humanity will be using less energy to do more work.

“Moreover, the world will be spending an ever-smaller percentage of global GDP on its energy needs – leaving a surplus to engage, should society so choose, in extraordinary initiatives to mitigate climate change.”