The International Energy Agency (IEA) is the leading international organization that provides guidance on energy policies to countries around the world. As part of this work, the IEA has historically been a dominant force in promoting fossil fuel development. However, in May 2021 the report Net Zero in 2050: A roadmap for the global energy system, the IEA firmly reversed course.

The report states that in order to tackle the climate crisis and keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C (the benchmark set in the Paris Agreement, above which extreme planetary life support systems become unsustainable) requires the “total transformation of the energy systems that underpin our economies”.  Most importantly, the report concluded that “No fossil fuel exploration is required…as no new oil and natural gas fields are required beyond those that have already been approved for development”.

This report is a game changer, and is particularly important for rural communities that still cling to oil and gas extraction as an economic driver. The IEA has categorically refuted such arguments that rural communities’ economic prospects can be tied to oil and gas extraction.

The report also noted that “We are in a critical year at the start of a critical decade for these efforts.” The report stresses the need to bridge the gap, which has only grown wider in recent years, between our worsening climate reality and the increasingly dire warnings of climate scientists and activists, and our action around energy systems and fossil fuels, which have lagged far behind.

We have already witnessed this incredibly concerning climate reality in the North Fork Valley in the form of above average warming (about 2.1 degrees Celsius, a little more than 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) has occurred thus far. This warming places increasing strain on our treasured water resources via a combination of extreme unpredictability and worsening water supply shortages. We must face this reality head on by supporting the only real solution that exists: dramatically and rapidly slashing current greenhouse gas emissions and preventing new greenhouse gas emitting projects from moving forward.

The path forward is clear: in order to stay on course to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, we must shut off the pipeline of new oil and gas development immediately, or we risk blowing past all accepted warming targets. This is a monumental declaration from an international body that was created to promote fossil fuels.

There is more good news. Not only are renewable energy technologies improving rapidly, and in doing so driving down energy costs, ratcheting up efficiencies, and gaining ground swiftly, but the environmental and social costs of fossil fuels are finally being recognized as simply too much for communities to bear.


In the upper North Fork Valley, natural gas extraction is already operating on the fringes of economic viability, and any limited production produced comes at great threatens the resiliency and well-being of our rare and irreplaceable ecosystem and community. For over a decade CHC and our community have been fighting to keep our air, water and foodsheds free from the ecological, health, and climate degradation path of natural gas extraction in our area. CHC is undertaking a Delta County greenhouse gas emissions inventory and climate planning efforts to inform, guide and add to proactive solutions currently underway.

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