On 18th May, The International Energy Agency (IEA) published the world’s first comprehensive energy roadmap to rapidly boost clean energy and reduce fossil fuels to reach the UK’s net-zero target by 2050.
The IEA’s report maps out a pathway with more than 400 milestones to guide the global journey to a net-zero energy system, resulting in a clean, dynamic, and resilient global energy economy dominated by renewables like solar and wind.
The first of its kind, the report is a landmark in planning how Governments can move towards the net-zero goal while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access, and enabling robust economic growth.
Faith Birol, the IEA Executive Director stated, “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 […] make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced.”
Some of the main priorities addressed in the report are:
- No investment in new fossil fuel supply projects from 18th May 2021
- No further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants from 18th May 2021
- Annual additions of solar PV and wind power to reach 630 gigawatts and 390 gigawatts respectively by 2030
- Providing electricity to around 785 million people across the globe who currently have no access to it and clean cooking solutions to 2.6 billion who lack them
- Total annual energy investment to reach 5 trillion USD by 2030
- No sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars by 2035
- The global electricity sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2040.
While many of the plans to reduce global CO2 emissions between now and 2030 involve technologies already available today, almost half of the reductions by 2050 require technologies that are currently in the demonstration or prototype phase. The report demands governments must quickly increase and reprioritise their spending on research and deployment of clean technologies such as advanced batteries, electrolysers for hydrogen, and direct air capture and storage.
“Moving the world onto that pathway [to clean energy] requires strong and credible policy actions from governments, underpinned by much greater international cooperation,” said Birol. “The pathway laid out in our Roadmap is global in scope, but each country will need to design its own strategy, taking into account its own specific circumstances.
However, Birol states these goals cannot be achieved without the sustained support and participation from citizens, announcing, “The clean energy transition is for and about people. 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.”
This landmark report is designed to inform the high-level negotiations that will take place at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention in Glasgow in November, having been requested by the UK government’s COP26 Presidency.