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IEA creating world’s first roadmap to net-zero emissions by 2050

The International Energy Agency (IEA) will produce the world’s first comprehensive roadmap for the energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The special report, The World’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050, will detail what is needed from governments, companies, investors and citizens to fully decarbonise the energy sector and put emission on a path in line with a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celcius.

The report is part of a series of new IEA projects to support efforts to reach global energy and climate goals. It will be released on 18 May 2021 and build momentum ahead of the COP26 Summit in Glasgow in November, under the presidency of the United Kingdom.

Though most of the world’s largest economies and many leading companies have announced plans to bring their emissions down to zero by 2050, much work remains to be done to translate the ambitious targets into actual reductions in carbon emissions.

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Dr Fatih Biro, EIA executive director, commented: “The energy that powers our daily lives and our economies also produce three-quarters of global emissions. This means our climate challenge is essentially an energy challenge. The IEA is determined to tackle that challenge and lead global clean energy transitions.

“Our roadmap to net-zero can play a vital role in helping countries to identify and implement the actions needed to achieve climate, energy security and affordability goals. Nothing sort of a total transformation of our energy infrastructure will be required. That calls for decisive action this year, next year and indeed every year till 2050,” said Birol.

Turning climate targets into action to reach net-zero emissions

COP26 president Alok Sharma also commented: “The IDEA’s plan to produce a pathway to net-zero global emissions by 2050 is another important step for climate action. This will make clear the actions countries must take individually and collectively to meet that goal.”

The IEA intends to set up works on global clean energy transitions in other major areas through 2021 and beyond. It will expand efforts to support its members and partners in meeting climate ambitions and play a greater role in tracking national commitments. This includes working with governments to develop stronger mechanisms to build confidence that they are not alone in taking the necessary steps to keep their climate promises.

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The IEA also announced that reinvigorating the international energy cooperation will be a major theme of the second IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit. This year’s summit will be co-hosted by the UK government on 31 March and will focus on how governments can work together more effectively to ensure long-term net-zero targets are translated into concrete action in the run-up to COP26.

“International collaboration is at the heart of the UK’s COP26 presidency and I am proud that the UK government will co-host the COP26-IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit to help accelerate the global shift to clean, affordable and resilient energy,” said Sharma.

Putting people at the heart of energy transitions

The IEA also announced a new high-level global commission headed by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark, Our Inclusive Energy Future.

The new commission will bring together government leaders, ministers and prominent thinkers to explore how best to empower citizens to benefit from opportunities and navigate the disruptions resulting from clean energy transitions.

The commission will consider the social and economic impacts on individuals and communities, as well as issues of affordability and fairness, with the aim of putting people at the heart of clean energy transitions.

The commission meetings will be chaired by Danish Energy, Climate and Utilities Minister Dan Jørgensen and result in key recommendations in advance of COP26.

IEA special projects for 2021 include the release of new global data on emissions of methane along with a detailed guide for policymakers and regulators seeing to increase their ambitions to cut their emissions.

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To ensure clean energy technologies are available to all countries the agency will also publish a report on Financing Clean Energy Transitions in Developing Economies which will be produced in collaboration with the World Bank and the World Economic forum in time for the WEF’s special annual meeting in Singapore in late May.

“Taken together, the projects we are announcing today reflect our commitment to lead the global clean energy transitions at a critical time and make sure we can address the challenge of climate change with sustainable, resilient and security energy systems,” said Birol.

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a conference producer for Clarion Events Africa.