November 2021 will see the most important UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP 26) since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. As COP 26 approaches, an increasing number of countries have announced long‐term goals to achieve net‐zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the coming decades. On 31 March 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) hosted a Net Zero Summit to take stock of the growing list of commitments from countries and companies to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, and to focus on the actions necessary to start turning those net zero goals into reality.
Achieving those goals will be demanding. The Covid‐19 pandemic delivered a major shock to the world economy, resulting in an unprecedented 5.8% decline in CO 2 emissions in 2020. However, our monthly data show that global energy‐related CO 2 emissions started to climb again in December 2020, and we estimate that they will rebound to around 33 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (Gt CO 2 ) in 2021, only 1.2% below the level in 2019 (IEA, 2021). Sustainable economic recovery packages offered a unique opportunity to make 2019 the definitive peak in global emissions, but the evidence so far points to a rebound in emissions in parallel with renewed economic growth, at least in the near term (IEA, 2020a).
Recent IEA analyses examined the technologies and policies needed for countries and regions to achieve net‐zero emissions energy systems. The World Energy Outlook 2020 examined what would be needed over the period to 2030 to put the world on a path towards net‐zero emissions by 2050 in the context of the pandemic‐related economic recovery (IEA, 2020b). The Faster Innovation Case in Energy Technology Perspectives 2020 explored whether net‐zero emissions could be achieved globally by 2050 through accelerated energy technology development and deployment alone: it showed that, relative to baseline trends, almost half of the emissions savings needed in 2050 to reach net‐zero emissions rely on technologies that are not yet commercially available (IEA, 2020c).
This special report, prepared at the request of the UK President of the COP 26, incorporates the insights and lessons learned from both reports to create a comprehensive and detailed pathway, or roadmap, to achieve net‐zero energy‐related and industrial process CO 2 emissions globally by 2050. It assesses the costs of achieving this goal, the likely impacts on employment and the economy, and the wider implications for the world. It also highlights the key milestones for technologies, infrastructure, investment and policy that are needed along the road to 2050.
Read the full report here.
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