Achieving Net Zero by 2050–World Climate Foundation’s Summary & Direction

The June 2021 World Climate Bulletin of the World Climate Foundation summarizes the roadmap for the global energy sector from precedence to gaps and immediate needs. The summary is based on a comprehensive report by the International Energy Agency.

Here is how the IEA report begins:

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.

Summary of the World Climate Bulletin on the IEA Report

In recent weeks, a series of key decisions were made indicating a potential ‘tipping point’ in the energy and low-carbon transition. A Dutch court ruled that Shell must step up its climate change efforts and reduce their CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030. In the United States, Exxon Mobil shareholders voted to replace two board members in favour of directors who are more focused on climate change and Chevron shareholders voted to support a proposal to reduce the company’s “Scope 3” emissions. In Australia, the federal court found that the environment minister has a “duty to protect” young people and future generations from the damage of climate change. 

The shareholder resolutions and court decisions fit into a broader pattern of a shift toward a lower emissions economy. Last week, the International Energy Agency released a new report, ‘Net-Zero by 2050’: a Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector. The IEA report forms an important part of this pattern, setting a clear trajectory for lower emissions in coming years. As a result, the low carbon transition is now more a question of not “if” but “when” – and underscores the need for policy action and investment to achieve globally agreed climate goals.
IEA – Halting new fossil fuel projects critical to reaching net zero by 2050

The new IEA report will inform the high-level negotiations that will take place at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the UN Climate Change Framework Convention in Glasgow in November. It was requested as input to the negotiations by the UK government’s COP26 Presidency.

The IEA Report is likely to influence high-level discussions and enhance cross-sector collaboration on World Climate Foundation’s platforms that involve both public and private actors, as well as the creation of low-carbon markets.

The IEA calls the report for 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.
As IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said,
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.”
According to the IEA“No new oil and natural gas fields are needed in the net zero pathway” – a finding with significant implications for investment decisions as we move to a net zero future.

In addition to cutting fossil fuel consumption, an historic surge in spending on low carbon technologies is now needed – $5 trillion in energy investments per year by 2030 up from current levels of around $2 trillion per annum. Policymakers and investors now have a reference against which to compare current policies and investments.
IEA Report: “Net-Zero by 2050 – Analysis and key findings”
IEA Report: “Net-Zero by 2050 – Analysis and key findings”
G7 moves to end overseas coal financing

Following the IEA report, the G7 Environment Ministers issued a detailed statement of joint commitments, stressing their determination to put climate, biodiversity and the environment at the heart of the G7’s COVID-19 recovery strategies and investments. 

Key amongst the pledges was the decision to halt financial support for coal development overseas as well as committing to phasing out coal and fully decarbonising their energy sectors in the 2030s.

The ministers are said to have been heavily influenced by the IEA report, which warned that the “path to net-zero emissions is narrow” and will require “massive deployment of all available clean energy technologies” by 2030.

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