OPINION: The past year has thoroughly demonstrated humanity’s reliance on energy, and how a forecast 5% drop in global energy demand could deliver a 7% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

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The demonstration came at an auspicious time. This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord, the ambitious international agreement to halve global emissions over the next decade.

To meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius Paris target, global emissions must be cut by 7.6% every year for the next decade.

Or, to put it another way, a Covid-19-like cut in energy demand every year until 2030.

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the industry’s decarbonisation efforts, with oil and gas companies of all sizes putting forward their plans to reduce their carbon footprint.

Natural gas, however, finds itself wedged between oil and gas companies’ decarbonisation strategy of focusing on low-carbon fuels and a broader impetus to replace gas with renewables for electricity, according to a recent report by US consultancy group Deloitte.

Just as coal and oil powered the industrial and technological revolutions for the past two centuries, natural gas stands ready to carry society into the next century as the cleanest burning, cheapest to produce, widely abundant and versatile fossil fuel.

Until such time as all renewable energy sources are able to meaningfully meet global energy demand — and the pace of growth in this regard is encouraging — natural gas appears destined to be the fuel of choice for some time to come.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)