IEA Sees ‘Viable but Narrow’ Pathway to Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

The International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a report Tuesday outlining what it calls a “viable but narrow” path to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by the year 2050, a plan that boldly calls for no new investment in fossil fuel projects and the end of the internal combustion engine by 2035.
 
The Paris-based agency’s report, “Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector,” says current climate pledges by countries to achieve the net-zero goal “even if fully achieved would fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net zero by 2050” and limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the goal established by the Paris climate accords.
 
In a statement, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said the report “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 plan lays out more than 400 milestones to guide the global journey to net zero by 2050.  
 
They include no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants; no sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars by 2035; and for the global electricity sector to have already reached net-zero emissions by 2040.
 
The IEA plan requires the immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies, combined with a major global push to accelerate innovation. The pathway calls for annual additions of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation to reach 630 gigawatts by 2030, and those of wind power to reach 390 gigawatts. Together, that is four times the record level set in 2020. For solar PV, it is equivalent to installing the world’s current largest solar park roughly every day.
 
Birol said such a historic surge in clean energy investment would “create millions of new jobs” and lift global economic growth.
 
The report comes out with an eye toward the November global climate summit in Glasgow in six months, when world leaders will meet to outline climate measures.

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