Net Zero by 2050

The International Energy Agency (IEA), whose mandate is to examine the full spectrum of energy issues and advocate policies that will enhance the reliability, affordability and sustainability of energy for its 31 member countries, released this landmark report on Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector in May 2021. In they look at the pledges to achieve net zero emissions by many countries.  Unfortunately, what they find is that the pledges by governments to date – even if fully achieved – fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 and give the world an even chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C.

The IEA claims that this landmark report is the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050 while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access, and enabling robust economic growth. It sets out a cost-effective and economically productive pathway, resulting in a clean, dynamic and resilient energy economy dominated by renewables like solar and wind instead of fossil fuels. The report also examines key uncertainties, such as the roles of bioenergy, carbon capture and behavioural changes in reaching net zero.

Note: The IEA subsequently released a follow-on report, Nuclear Power and Secure Energy Transitions, which expands upon the work from this 2021 report, Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector. It does so by exploring in depth nuclear power’s potential role as a source of low emissions electricity that is available on demand to complement the leading role of renewables such as wind and solar in the transition to electricity systems with net zero emissions.

Read the IEA’s flagship report, A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, published in May 2021.