New IEA report gives meaning to Net Zero – five key insights

A large proportion of nations, companies, and cities are aiming to record net-zero emissions in order to meet climate goals. The International Energy Agency has formulated a plan to achieve this. The IEA has released its long-awaited roadmap highlighting how the globe’s energy sector could slash its planet-heating emissions to net zero in 30 years. The International Energy Agency states that it would provide the best possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5C.

Under the Paris Agreement signed in 2015, over 190 countries have committed to keeping the global average temperature rise to below 2C above pre-industrial times. This ideally means 1.5C in order to avoid the worst impacts of rising seas and extreme weather.

The special report created by the energy agency stated that achieving net-zero emissions by the mid-century was plausible. It added, however, that the pathway to achieving this was narrow and required immediate action from all countries in order to kick-start an unprecedented alteration in how energy is not only produced but transported and used around the world.

The report contains the following key insights:

  1. Climate pledges made by governments so far, even if fully met, fall well short of the required effort to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero by 2050.
  2. Sales of new diesel and petrol passenger cars should be halted by 2035.
  3. Meeting the Paris Agreement goal will require massive and rapid deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies including a massive jump in the wind and solar power use, with about 90% of electricity being generated from renewable sources by 2050.
  4. No new investment projects to boost coal, gas and oil supplies, nor additional funding for new coal plants that aren’t going to be fitted with emissions reduction technology.
  5. Total annual energy investment should exceed $5 trillion by 2030, rising from $2 trillion today. This will create millions of clean energy jobs and in turn, raise global GDP 4% higher by the end of the decade compared to estimates using current trends.

What is Net Zero?

A growing number of companies and governments have set their net-zero emissions targets for the middle of the century.

To achieve net-zero doesn’t mean that all emissions will be eliminated. What it does mean is ensuring any human-produced carbon dioxide or planet-warming gases that can’t be cleaned are removed from the atmosphere one way or another.

This is generally done naturally, by restoring forests that suck the CO2 out of the air. It can also be done by utilising technology that captures and store emission from factories and power plants or directly pull it from the atmosphere.

Planting additional trees around the world is a popular way to absorb and store extra carbon, however, technologies that have the same role are not only still expensive but are not feasible enough to be deployed on a larger scale. Scientists have stated that carbon removals in any shape or form, cannot substitute for lowering the heating emissions around the planet as quickly as possible.

The Oxford-ECIU back in late 2020 released analysis that discovered that net-zero commitments around the world covered a minimum of 68% of the world’s economy, 56% of its population, ranked at over 4.2 billion people,  and 61% of its emissions worldwide.

It does, however, state that less than a 1/5 of net-zero targets created to meet the key criteria, which include a goal for decarbonising before 2050, lacks a strategy, policy or law that confirms the goal, yearly reporting on progress or a published plan for achieving the goal and interim targets.

As reported by The World Economic Forum

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