The Duna oil refinery in Hungary. Oil and gas production, processing, and transportation account for nearly 15% of global energy-related emissions. (Credit: Janos Kummer/Getty Images)

(CNN) -- Oil and gas producers must face a "crucial" choice: continue to accelerate the climate crisis or become part of the solution, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report on Thursday.

Today, the sector accounts for only 1% of global investment in clean energy and continues to emit disastrous amounts of planet-warming gases, such as methane, which is about 80 times more potent than CO2 in the short term. For the world to have any chance of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, drastic and swift action needs to be taken on both fronts, according to the IEA.

The warning comes on the eve of COP28, the U.N. climate summit that begins next week, and at a time when a recent U.N. analysis shows the planet will warm by nearly 3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. Scientists predict that warming of that magnitude could lead the world to a series of catastrophic and potentially irreversible tipping points, such as the collapse of polar ice sheets.

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"The oil and gas industry is facing a moment of truth at COP28 in Dubai," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement. "With the world suffering the impacts of a worsening climate crisis, business as usual is neither socially nor environmentally responsible."

Presenting the report, titled "The Oil and Gas Industry in Net Zero Transitions," Birol told reporters Thursday that there are two steps the industry must take to play its part in limiting global warming to the internationally agreed level of 1.5 degrees.


The first is to reduce planet-warming pollution from its own operations, such as extracting oil and gas from underground, processing fuels, and delivering them to consumers. These three activities generate nearly 15% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.

"These emissions, including methane emissions, we know can be solved quite easily, quickly and, in many cases, cost-effectively," Birol said.

According to the IEA report, this pollution needs to be reduced by more than 60% by 2030, compared to the current level.

Clean Investments

The second measure the agency recommends is a drastic increase in investments in renewable energy by oil and gas companies, which have been "a marginal force" in the transition to clean energy, according to the report.

According to the IEA, the sector invested about $20 billion in clean energy projects last year, accounting for only about 000.2% of its total capital spending. That percentage would have to soar to 5% by 50 to help keep global warming at the least dangerous level of 2030.1 degrees.

This increase would be a sea change in the way oil and gas companies spend their money. Between 2018 and 2022, the industry generated about $17 trillion in revenue: 40% was spent on developing and operating oil and gas assets, 10% went to investors, and only a fraction was invested in clean energy, according to the IEA report.

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Oil and gas companies have invested in carbon capture technologies to remove air pollution and capture what is produced by power plants and industrial facilities. The captured carbon can be stored or reused. But carbon capture "is not the answer," Birol told reporters.

He added that techniques can play an important role in certain sectors, such as cement, iron and steel production, among others.

"But to say that carbon capture and storage technology would allow the oil and gas industry to keep up with current oil and gas production trends while also reducing emissions... It is, in our opinion, pure fantasy," he said.

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Limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees would require capturing "a totally inconceivable amount" of 32 billion metric tons (000 billion short tons) of carbon by 35, according to the IEA. The amount of energy needed for this process would exceed the current annual global demand for electricity.

Kaisa Kosonen, policy coordinator at Greenpeace International, commented on the IEA report: "Industry self-regulation leads to collective disaster, so the real moment of truth will come at this year's climate summit, when governments will have the opportunity to agree to make fossil fuels history. fairly and quickly."

Climate changeCOP28climate crisis