IEA Outlines Net-Zero Pathway, but Challenges Remain - Smart Energy Decisions

GHG Emissions, Sourcing Renewables  -  May 24, 2021

IEA Outlines Net-Zero Pathway, but Challenges Remain

A pathway to achieving net-zero emissions in the world by 2050 is clear, but current climate pledges and progress being made will not be enough as it currently stands.

That’s according to Net Zero by 2050: a Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, released May 18 by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The roadmap includes more than 400 milestones along the transition, all of which include no investment in new fossil fuel projects and no further investment decisions for new unabated coal plants.

Other key milestones are the limit of new internal combustion vehicles by 2035 and achieving net-zero emissions in the global electricity sector by 2040. By 2050, almost half the required reduction will come from technologies that are currently in the prototype phase, meaning governments must act quickly to reprioritize their spending on research and development in areas of clean energy technologies.

“The pathway laid out in our Roadmap is global in scope, but each country will need to design its own strategy, taking into account its own specific circumstances,” said Dr. Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director, said in a statement. “Plans need to reflect countries’ differing stages of economic development: in our pathway, advanced economies reach net zero before developing economies. The IEA stands ready to support governments in preparing their own national and regional roadmaps, to provide guidance and assistance in implementing them, and to promote international cooperation on accelerating the energy transition worldwide.”

The report outlines the way in which the transition to a net-zero energy system could be achieved while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access and enabling economic growth. It also looks into technological advances that are uncertain at the moment but could grow to have a key role in the success of the transition, such as bioenergy, carbon capture and behavioral changes.

The pathway calls for annual additions of solar mechanisms to reach 630 GW and wind power to reach 390 GW by 2030 to eventually reach 90% of energy coming from renewable sources. These targets represent four times the record level set in 2020 and the solar target would be equivalent to installing the world’s largest current solar park every day.

“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. 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 °C – make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced,” Dr. Birol said. “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.”

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