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Net zero energy sector possible

A new report released this week by the International Energy Agency (IEA) points governments towards actions that can deliver on global climate goals.

According to the Net Zero by 2050: a Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector report, there is still a pathway for the energy sector to achieve net zero emissions by the middle of the century. For that to happen the IEA says an ‘unprecedented transformation of how energy is produced, transported and used globally’ is needed.

“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,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director. “The IEA’s pathway to this brighter future brings a historic surge in clean energy investment that creates millions of new jobs and lifts global economic growth. Moving the world onto that pathway requires strong and credible policy actions from governments, underpinned by much greater international cooperation.” 

Employing its energy modelling tools and industry expertise, the IEA has put forward a roadmap with 400 plus milestones that pave the way for a net zero system by 2050. Ending investment in new fossil fuel projects, and the sale of new internal combustion engine passenger cars by 2035 are some of these. While the pathway also calls for an increase in funding for wind and solar to generate levels of power by 2030 four times higher than the record levels set by these renewable sources in 2020.

“The clean energy transition is for and about people,” added Dr Birol. “Our Roadmap shows that the enormous challenge of rapidly transitioning to a net zero energy system is also a huge opportunity for our economies. The transition must be fair and inclusive, leaving nobody behind. We have to ensure that developing economies receive the financing and technological know-how they need to build out their energy systems to meet the needs of their expanding populations and economies in a sustainable way.”

Decision makers are being urged to capitalise on the falling costs of adopting clean power technologies, as investment levels must rise to meet climate targets and support COVID-19 recovery plans. These were some of the key findings in the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2020 report published last year by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre and BloombergNEF (BNEF).

Justice also has a central role to play in the transition. Shalanda H. Baker, the recently appointed Deputy Director for Energy Justice at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), spoke to Marc Buckley on the Inside Ideas podcast about the need to fix the energy sector’s unequal power dynamics. A problem she tackles in her new book: Revolutionary PowerAn Activist’s Guide to the Energy Transition. Catch up now with Marc’s interview with Biden’s deputy director for energy justice at the DOE

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Iain Robertson
Written By

Iain is an experienced writer, journalist and lecturer, who held editorships with a number of business focussed publications before co-founding and becoming editor of Innovators Magazine. Iain is also the strategic director for OnePoint5Media.

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