Net Zero: a great challenge for everyone
Net zero, i.e. zero emissions by 2050: this is the goal of the first global energy roadmap. According to the new Net Zero by 2050: a Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and called for by the UK presidency of COP26 in Glasgow, “the world has a viable pathway to building a global energy sector with net zero emissions in 2050, but it is narrow and requires an unprecedented transformation of how energy is produced, transported and used globally.” The report also points out that the climate commitments made by governments to date fall short of what is needed to bring global energy-related CO2 emissions to zero by 2050 and give the world a chance to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 °C.
It is an important study, the first of its kind in the world, on how to move to a zero-emission energy system while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, universal access to energy and enabling economic growth.
The report also highlights some aspects which are still uncertain, such as the role of bio-energy, carbon capture, and behavioral changes.
It is certainly not an easy path. On the road to net zero, the role of oil and gas will diminish, while the electrification of energy end-uses, including hydrogen production and subsequent investments in batteries, digital solutions and electricity grids that combine flexibility with adequate and reliable supplies, will be central. Drawing on the IEA’s energy modeling tools and expertise, over 400 “milestones” are outlined in the report, including a commitment not to invest in new fossil fuel projects and new coal-fired power plants.
According to the report, the scenario of a zero-emission economy would be achievable in 2050 if global demand is reduced by about 8% compared to today, yet with an economy double what it is and a population with 2 billion more people. In this context, almost 90% of the electricity production will come from renewable sources, with wind and solar photovoltaics together accounting for almost 70%. Most of the rest will come from nuclear power. Solar energy will be the leading source of total energy in the world. (www.iea.org/reports/net-zero-by-2050).