The number of countries announcing pledges to achieve net-zero emissions over the coming decades continues to grow. But the pledges by governments to date – even if fully achieved – fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 and give the world an even chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C.
This special 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, such as the roles of bioenergy, carbon capture and behavioural changes in reaching net zero.
governments to tackle the causes of global warming, CO2 emissions from energy and industry have increased by 60% since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed in 1992.Global commitments and actions are growing, but they still fall well short of what is needed to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 °C and avert the worst effects of climate change.Our Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap provides a pathway
Our Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap provides a pathway to reach this formidable and critical goal, setting out more than 400 milestones for what needs to be done, and when, to decarbonise the global economy in just three decades.
The path to net-zero emissions is narrow
Staying on it requires the massive deployment of all available clean energy technologies – such as renewables, EVs and energy efficient building retrofits – between now and 2030.For solar power, it is equivalent to installing the world’s current largest solar park roughly every day.
A surge in clean energy investment can bring jobs and growth
To reach net zero emissions by 2050, annual clean energy investment worldwide will need to more than triple by 2030 to around $4 trillion.This will create millions of new jobs, significantly lift global economic growth, and achieve universal access to electricity and clean cooking worldwide by the end of the decade.
We need to drive huge leaps in clean energy innovation
Most of the reductions in CO2 emissions through 2030 come from technologies already on the market today. But in 2050, almost half the reductions come from technologies that are currently at the demonstration or prototype phase.Major innovation efforts must take place this decade in order to bring these new technologies to market in time.
A rapid shift away from fossil fuels
Net zero means huge declines in the use of coal, oil and gas.This requires steps such as halting sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars by 2035, and phasing out all unabated coal and oil power plants by 2040.
Electricity becomes the core of the energy system
It will play a key role across all sectors, from transport and buildings to industry. Electricity generation will need to reach net-zero emissions globally in 2040 and be well on its way to supplying almost half of total energy consumption.This will require huge increases in electricity system flexibility – such as batteries, demand response, hydrogen-based fuels, hydropower and more – to ensure reliable supplies.
New low-emissions industries flourish
By 2045, new energy technologies will be widespread.The vast majority of cars on the roads will be running on electricity or fuel cells, planes will be relying largely on advanced biofuels and synthetic fuels, and hundreds of industrial plants will be using carbon capture or hydrogen around the world.
A clean energy world
The global energy sector in 2050 is based largely on renewables, with solar the single largest source of supply. Achieving this cleaner, healthier future will rely on a singular, unwavering focus from all governments, working closely with businesses, investors and citizens.
It will also require greater international cooperation among countries, notably to ensure that developing economies have the financing and technologies they need to reach net zero in time.
Achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 will require nothing short of the complete transformation of the global energy system
Renewable energy technologies like solar and wind are the key to reducing emissions in the electricity sector, which is today the single largest source of CO2 emissions.In our pathway to net zero, almost 90% of global electricity generation in 2050 comes from renewable sources, with solar PV and wind together accounting for nearly 70%.
Many energy efficient solutions for buildings, vehicles, home appliances and industry are available today and can be scaled up quickly, creating lots of jobs in the process.Our pathway rapidly puts all of them to use on a massive scale in order to push the average rate of energy efficiency improvements in the 2020s to about three times the average of the last two decades.
As electricity generation becomes progressively cleaner, electrification of areas previously dominated by fossil fuels emerges as a crucial economy-wide tool for reducing emissions.This takes place through technologies like electric cars, buses and trucks on the roads, heat pumps in buildings, and electric furnaces for steel production.
Sustainable bioenergy delivers emissions reductions across a wide range of areas, including low-emissions fuels for planes, ships and other forms of transport, and the replacement of natural gas with biomethane to provide heating and electricity. Sustainable bioenergy is also essential for bringing clean cooking solutions to the 2.6 billion people who currently lack them.
Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) contributes to the transition to net zero in multiple ways. These include tackling emissions from existing energy assets, providing solutions in some of the sectors where emissions are hardest to reduce like cement, supporting the rapid scaling up of low‐emissions hydrogen production, and enabling some CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere.
Hydrogen and hydrogen based fuels
Hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels will need to fill the gaps where electricity cannot easily or economically replace fossil fuels and where limited sustainable bioenergy supplies cannot cope with demand. This includes using hydrogen-based fuels for ships and planes, as well as hydrogen in heavy industries like steel and chemicals.
Achieving net zero by 2050 cannot be achieved without the sustained support and participation from citizens. Behavioural changes, particularly in advanced economies – such as replacing car trips with walking, cycling or public transport, or foregoing a long-haul flight –provide around 4% of the cumulative emissions reductions in our pathway
Source:IEA, Net Zero by 2050, https://www.iea.org/reports/net-zero-by-2050