IEA sees a radical road to net-zero emissions by 2050
The International Energy Agency has called for the immediate end to investment in new fossil fuel supply projects and no further investment decisions for new unabated coal plants, as part of a drive for the world to hit net-zero emissions by 2050.
It also wants an end to sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars by 2035 and a global electricity system that has reached net-zero emissions by 2040.
“The number of countries that have pledged to reach net‐zero emissions by mid‐century or soon after continues to grow, but so do global greenhouse gas emissions,” the report said.
“This gap between rhetoric and action needs to close if we are to have a fighting chance of reaching net zero by 2050 and limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 °C.
“Doing so requires nothing short of a total transformation of the energy systems that underpin our economies. We are in a critical year at the start of a critical decade for these efforts.
“There are still pathways to reach net zero by 2050. The one on which we focus is the most technically feasible, cost‐effective and socially acceptable.
“Even so, that pathway remains narrow and extremely challenging, requiring all stakeholders — governments, businesses, investors and citizens — to take action this year and every year after that so that the goal does not slip out of reach.”
The report sets out 400 milestones for achieving net-zero by 2050.
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.
It wants annual additions of solar PV to reach 630 gigawatts by 2030, and those of wind power to reach 390 gigawatts.
“Together, this is four times the record level set in 2020,” the report said. “For solar PV, it is equivalent to installing the world’s current largest solar park roughly every day.
“A major worldwide push to increase energy efficiency is also an essential part of these efforts, resulting in the global rate of energy efficiency improvements averaging 4 per cent a year through 2030 – about three times the average over the last two decades.
“Most of the global reductions in CO2 emissions between now and 2030 in the net zero pathway come from technologies readily available today. But in 2050, almost half the reductions come from technologies that are currently only at the demonstration or prototype phase.”
Among the behavioural changes required, the IEA report said, was reducing the use of air conditioning; limiting driving speeds to 100kmh; shifting to cycling, walking, ridesharing or public transport; and replacing regional air travel with high-speed rail where feasible.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association said the IEA report looked at one narrow formula to achieve net-zero by 2050.
Chief Executive Andrew McConville said the report showed the benefits of the oil and gas industry being at the forefront of new energy technologies but warned to take some of its findings “with a grain of salt as it is only one possible scenario”.
“The IEA report doesn’t take into account future negative emission technologies and offsets from outside the energy sector,” Mr McConville said. “Two things that are likely to happen and will allow vital and necessary future development of oil and gas fields.
“The IEA report does though set out some of the challenges facing the global energy system, but the Australian oil and gas industry is already on the path to meet those challenges and grasp the opportunities.
“Our industry has the technology, skills, experience and commercial relationships to develop a world-scale hydrogen industry both domestically and for export and to significantly scale up carbon capture and storage activities.”
Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt told The Australian stopping coal, gas and oil developments would “further dis¬advantage developing nations that are trying to lift themselves out of energy poverty”.
Japan and Australia said they would continue to invest in fossil fuels, despite the IEA’s call for such investment to end immediately.