The world has a viable pathway to building a global energy sector with net-zero emissions in 2050 but it is narrow and requires an unprecedented transformation of how energy is produced, transported and used globally, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a landmark special report released on Tuesday.
Climate pledges by governments to date – even if fully achieved – will fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net zero by 2050 and give the world an even chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees celsius, according to the report titled ‘Net Zero by 2050: a Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.’
The report is the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050 while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access, and enabling robust economic growth.
It sets out a cost-effective and economically productive pathway, resulting in a clean, dynamic and resilient energy economy dominated by renewables like solar and wind instead of fossil fuels.
The report also examines key uncertainties like roles of bioenergy, carbon capture and behavioural changes in reaching net zero.
“Our roadmap shows the priority actions that are needed today to ensure the opportunity of net-zero emissions by 2050 – narrow but still achievable – is not lost,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
“The scale and speed of the efforts demanded by this critical and formidable goal – our best chance of tackling climate change and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees celsius – make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced,” he said in a statement.
“The IEA’s pathway to this brighter future brings a historic surge in clean energy investment that creates millions of new jobs and lifts global economic growth. Moving the world onto that pathway requires strong and credible policy actions from governments, underpinned by much greater international cooperation.”
Building on the IEA’s unrivalled energy modelling tools and expertise, the roadmap sets out more than 400 milestones to guide the global journey to net zero by 2050. These include no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants from today.
By 2035, there are no sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars, and by 2040, the global electricity sector has already reached net-zero emissions.
In the near term, the report describes a net zero pathway that requires the immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies, combined with a major global push to accelerate innovation.