The International Energy Agency (IEA) has urged countries to cut new fossil fuel investments and limit sales of internal combustion engine passenger cars to achieve their net-zero targets by 2050.
The world’s pathway to developing an energy sector with net-zero emissions by 2050 is a viable but narrow one. Achieving the net-zero target would need an extraordinary transformation of how energy is produced, transported and used globally, the Paris-based agency stated.
According to the IEA to meet the net-zero emission target by 2050, over 400 milestones will need to be achieved and it includes no new investment in fossil fuel supply projects and no further final investment decisions in new unabated coal plants, which use the fuel without lowering its carbon impact. It also recommended to suspend sales of new internal combustion engines by 2035 and urged the global electricity sector to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040.
“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,” Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said.
The roadmap comes amid sweeping changes in global energy policy. Oil companies in the US, the biggest hydrocarbons producer, are facing increasing scrutiny as the Joe Biden administration continues to push for a transition to cleaner sources of energy to lower emissions.
The US has frozen new exploration activities on federal lands and has rejoined the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit emissions to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. It also plans to halve emissions from 2005 levels by 2030.
Last year, a number of countries adopted positions on carbon neutrality after movement restrictions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a record fall in carbon emissions.
Under the IEA’s scenario, solar photovoltaic and wind will become the world’s most prominent sources of electricity before the end of this decade, going on to account for almost 70 percent of generation by 2050.
The agency says that solar will become the planet’s single largest source of total energy supply by the middle of this century. Fossil fuels, by contrast, will see their share “fall from almost four-fifths of total energy supply today to slightly over one-fifth.” Jobs opportunities in clean energy will increase by 14 million in the period to 2030, roles in oil, gas and coal would fall by approximately 5 million.
“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,” Mr. Birol, said in a statement.
However, some experts have opined that the IEA’s net-zero roadmap is not the most ambitious. Joeri Rogelj, director of research, Grantham Institute, Imperial College London said, the pathway to carbon neutrality recommended by the agency is “far from being the most conservative and is more than just a token effort.”