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IEA’s ‘net zero roadmap’ calls for an end to new oil and gas exploration

There can be no new oil and gas exploration or development if the world is to align with a net zero emissions pathway by 2050, according to a major new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA). 

In Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, the agency sets out over 400 milestones to guide the global economy towards a carbon-neutral future. These include, as of today, ending investment in all new fossil fuel supply projects, as well as unabated coal-fired power stations. By 2035, the IEA says there should be no more sales of new internal combustion engine passenger vehicles. Five years after that, the report concludes that the global electricity sector should have reached net zero emissions. 

According to the IEA, the lion’s share of the necessary reductions in global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between now and 2030 come from technologies that are already mature. The Roadmap calls for annual solar PV installations to reach a massive 630 GW by the end of the decade, and for wind installations to hit 390 GW. This is four times the record level of wind and solar additions set last year. 

‘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,’ explains Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. ‘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.’

Energy efficiency upgrades also feature prominently in the report, with IEA analysis calling for average improvements of 4% a year through 2030, a figure that amounts to about three times the average over the last 20 years. 

By mid-century, almost half of GHG reductions should come from technologies that are currently in the early stages of development. As such, the Roadmap encourages governments to massively increase research and development funding so that emerging technologies can be deployed at scale. 

Hydrogen electrolysers, advanced batteries and direct air carbon capture and storage solutions will prove particularly important, says the IEA.

Contrary to the fears of some policymakers, this rapid transition away from fossil fuels will not put an undue strain on the economy. If total annual energy investment climbs to $5tn by 2030, this will add an extra 0.4% to GDP growth annually. Research conducted in conjunction with the IMF suggests that a leap in public and private sector energy spending would create millions of new jobs in clean energy, as well as construction, engineering and manufacturing. All told, this would leave global GDP 4% higher in 2030 than it would be in a business-as-usual scenario.

If the IEA’s roadmap is adhered to, the world of energy will look drastically different in 2050. Global energy demand will be 8% smaller than it is today, though it would serve an economy more than twice the size and a population with over 2bn more people. Almost 90% of electricity in this scenario would come from renewables, with the remainder largely coming from nuclear. 

News Item details


Journal title: Energy World

Organisation: International Energy Agency

Subjects: Net zero - Oil and gas - Exploration -

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