October 11, 2018 / 10:00 AM / 6 days ago

OPEC Secretary-General questions 'misguided' renewables debate after climate report

LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC’s Secretary-General on Thursday criticized a report calling for radical action to fight climate change, saying the idea that renewable energy was the world’s only future was misguided and that a “bombardment” of green advocacy could be harmful.

FILE PHOTO - OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo listens during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, November 7, 2017. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

A U.N. panel this week called for unprecedented changes in how the world consumes energy and a dramatic rise in the use of renewable power to contain global warming and protect the planet from heatwaves, floods and rising sea levels.

“We have significant concerns with some of their conclusions, not to talk about their solutions going forward,” Mohammad Barkindo of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries told an Oil & Money conference in London.

The past 18 years have been the warmest on record since the 1850s when measurements began, according to U.N. scientists who attribute the temperature rises and extreme weather mainly to greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

“It is not about choosing one energy source against another, as it is being suggested by some of our colleagues in the scientific community. In some quarters we hear stories that suggest renewables are our only energy future. This, with all true respect to our friends, is clearly misguided,” he said.

The U.N. report said renewable energy would need to supply 70-85 percent of electricity by 2050 to stay within a 1.5 degrees Celsius limit, compared with about 25 percent now.

Barkindo said a “bombardment of advocacy” for alternative energy sources was impacting sources of financing and investment in the hydrocarbon industry with potentially dangerous consequences for society and the global economy.

To contain the rise in global temperatures at 1.5C, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said man-made global net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would need to fall by about 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels.

It said emissions should be “net zero” by mid-century.

“Oil is not toxic at the end of the day, emissions are toxic,” Barkindo said, adding that technologies to reduce and ultimately eliminate emissions from fossil fuels should be the focus of attention.

OPEC raised its forecast for growth in global oil demand last month. It now sees 2020 oil consumption reaching 101.9 million barrels per day (bpd), up 1.2 million bpd from last year’s report. Longer-term, oil demand is expected to increase by 14.5 million bpd to 111.7 million bpd by 2040.

Reporting By Shadia Nasralla; editing by David Evans

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