Column: “IEA, you call this a serious roadmap?” “Roadmap? Yes. Serious? Well, you need to specify such things up front, no?”

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“Bonjour, International Energy Agency. Comment puis-je vous aider?”

“Hello. May I speak with someone in English please?”

“Ah, oui. I mean yes, you can. I can help you. Well, I don’t know if I can help you. I mean I can speak with you.” 

“Quit blathering. I’m British. I need a roadmap. And I need it quickly.”

“You do not need to be rude. What sort of a roadmap, Monsieur? We are not a tourist agency, you know. Is it possible you are perhaps a little bit, how do you say, swimming in the head?”

“Listen. I’m with COP26, the global climate conference happening this fall. We need a roadmap to get to net zero emissions by 2050. You chaps at the IEA have a lot of global influence. Can you get one for us? Soon?”

The line turns into leaden with the unmistakable presence of indifference. “Well, perhaps, Monsieur. We are quite busy. If you want to discuss a suitable premium, then I could possibly say that your project could be perhaps moving faster than, you know, maybe she would otherwise without doing the better money.”

“I am surprised to say that I do believe I understand what you are saying. Money is not an issue, if it can be done quickly.”

“Well well. That is certainly interesting, Monsieur. We can get right to work on it. Your timing is quite good. We had been working on another report somewhat related. Now that I am thinking…perhaps we will hurry and get him out of the way first.”

“Just make it happen and send the bill. This needs to be a priority. The world needs to see a roadmap or there will be trouble.”

“Certainly, Monsieur. It will take some time and thinking. This roadmap will have to be somewhat better than, say, your Brexit roadmap.”

“Do you think you’re funny?”

“Well, you know, there are some big things that you British have handled as, how would one say, les incompétents?”

“As much as I am dying to hear your thoughts on governance and leadership, I do have more important things to do.”

“Such as perhaps drink some warm beer and eat something with beans on it?” 

“Just complete the roadmap please.”

“Without hesitation, Monsieur. We shall put on speed to make logical of the invoice that you are going to be receiving.”

========

“Bonjour, International Energy Agency. Comment puis-je vous aider?”

“Hello. May I speak with someone in English please?”

“Oui. You may. Oh, it is you.”

“Please Stop saying oui.”

“Why?”

“I am English.”

 “I am not. And you did not need to tell me you are English. It is you who I remember more than I want to remember.” 

“Your smarmy comments are unhelpful.”

“Pah. You are lucky I answered ze phone. I can recognize your dreary area codes. What do you want? You have your report.”

Some report. It is horrible! People are usually not happy.” 

“Mon Dieu, what happened? Did Mr. Bean place his head inside a turkey once again to show his displeasure?”

“This report. You’re essentially saying it is impossible. Half the gains in emissions come from technologies that don’t even exist yet.”

“Impossible? Not at all. Challenging, perhaps. We stated clearly there is a small window and that certain very great things must happen. But impossible? Why be so negative? Is the weather getting to you?” 

“Here is another absurd comment from your work: By 2050 ‘global energy demand is around 8% smaller than today, but it serves an economy more than twice as big and a population with 2 billion more people.’ How is that possible?”

“It’s all in the roadmap. It is laid out quite clearly in very nice pictures.”

But these photos are meaningless! The roadmap is immediately incorrect. For occasion, it says there could be no extra fossil gasoline improvement after this 12 months.”

“Oui. That is a necessity given your timeframe and ending wishes of carbon in 2050.”

“But that’s ludicrous! China, India, Africa, Russia…all have announced plans for hundreds of billions. So have dozens of other countries.”

“Bwah! What do you want to from us? You want us to build your contraption also? You asked for a roadmap. You have a roadmap.”

“But how can you call it a roadmap for a 30-year plan when it is crystal clear that next year’s planned global fossil fuel investments alone render it impossible?” 

Another irritated shrug is felt hanging within the air. “Well, you know, that is not our problem. You asked for a roadmap and you have in your hands got one. If it seems impossible, perhaps you should not be asking for the crazy things.”

“But this is like selling me a plan to land on Pluto in three weeks.”

“There we go! Now you’re in the spirit. We can get you one of those too. You would be one very busy little Englishman but it will be a similar roadmap.”

“I get the idea you are not taking this seriously.”

“Au contraire. We are taking it very seriously. It is the end goal that is possibly not serious. You want something that will take almost magic. To get where you want to go, I don’t think you can get there from here. But you say you are going anyway. So we tell you what you need to do. Invent many things. Make some magic. Go to ‘ogwarts and find Monsieur Potter and get him to shake ‘is little stick around. Tout suite.” 

“Blast you, this is the climate we’re talking about. This is serious. And the technological breakthroughs are far from the only issue. I read your May report, about the looming demand for minerals due to the rise of renewables.”

“Ah oui. It is a very good report.”

“It seems almost equally impossible. The report states that global mineral demand will increase four times current levels to meet climate targets. By 2040.”

“And your problem is…?”

“That is ludicrous in itself! The very same report flags how difficult it is to build any new mines, anywhere. Let me read it back to you: ‘Our analysis suggests that it has taken on average over 16 years to move mining projects from discovery to first production.’ And that is a historical statistic! New mines will take far longer, if they can even be built at all, thanks to…well never mind why. How about this: ‘A typical electric car requires six times the mineral inputs of a conventional car and an onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources than a gas-fired plant of the same capacity.’ ” 

“That is true. Or so the report says. There is much work to do, no?”

“But these reports simply point out things that are possible only in theory. You can’t just say, ‘this goal is achievable only if you develop technology that does not exist in the real world yet’. You could say that about anything, no matter how crazy.”

“True, but it is not normal that people walk in off the street and ask for things that are crazy, and with a firm deadline for the magic to happen. We did our best.”

“You call this your best? When discussing the astounding development required to provide enough minerals, you throw in comments like: ‘It is therefore of paramount importance for governments and industry to work to ensure adequate supply of battery metals to mitigate any price increases.’ That doesn’t even make sense. What mineral producer is going to work with a government to mitigate price increases? Are you insane?”

“It sounds much more convincing in French.”

“So let me see if I get this straight. You put out a report indicating massive demand for minerals, four times current levels, which is pretty much impossible to achieve in an era when any new development, anywhere in the world, faces fierce opposition for environmental reasons. Then a few weeks later you put out another report saying the world will have to accomplish all the impossible tasks of the first report, but WITHOUT another dime spent on fossil fuels in the future. That would have the effect of making required mineral development, which is by your own admission a near fantasy, twice as hard because the entire industry would have to begin dismantling the fossil fuel backbone upon which it exists.”

“That sounds about right.”

“How on earth does anyone take you seriously?”

“Ah monsieur, that is the interesting thing about this whole crazy thing that is happening. Everyone accepts that the fairies are landing by 2050. They just assume it will happen because they say it must happen. So these reports, they do the magic.” 

“This will destroy our credibility!”

 “Take some deep air, Monsieur. Put on your thinking chapeau. What did the media say about our report?”

“Well, oddly enough, the media was very receptive and enthusiastic. Reports zeroed in on the notion of no new fossil fuel investment. They loved that.”

“And how many said it was ‘impossible’ ?” 

“None, because you said, in the report, that it was possible.”

Another shrug. “There you go, Monsieur. It is now the problem of the politicians. Enjoy your conference. If you would like the name of a good caterer I would be happy to provide some three-star recommendations. If you want to talk about crazy ideas, a climate conference where you put steak and kidneys in your pies will not be any good for the big environment or the tiny one in which you expect your guests to eat such things.”

“I am so happy to be done with you.”

“It was our pleasure, to create your roadmap. Feel free to contact us whenever you have another important mission. Au revoir.”

Well, possibly the French and British received’t purchase it after at the moment, however there’s no cause you can’t!  Pick up “The End of Fossil Fuel Insanity” at Amazon.caIndigo.ca, or Amazon.com. Thanks for the help.

Read extra insightful evaluation from Terry Etam right here, or e mail Terry right here.