WASHINGTON (May 18, 2021)—The International Energy Agency (IEA) just released a special report laying out a comprehensive pathway for the global energy sector to reach net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The report, Net-Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, examines what actions are needed from governments, companies, investors and citizens to decarbonize the energy sector and limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Recognizing the economic and health benefits of the clean energy transition, 60 countries, hundreds of companies and several financial institutions have set net-zero emissions targets to date. For the world to achieve these goals, it is critical that governments and businesses take near-term action to understand the different trajectories to reach net-zero. As leaders prepare for the upcoming G7, G20 and Clean Energy Ministerial meetings, governments will need to examine how this scenario helps shape the policy actions needed to achieve this goal.

Following is a statement from Jennifer Layke, Global Director, Energy, World Resources Institute:

“The Net-Zero by 2050 report reflects a marked improvement over previous IEA scenarios in that it shifts the timeframe for reaching net-zero CO2 emissions in the energy sector forward by 20 years, from 2070 to 2050. The report also lays out important milestones that must be reached in the interim, including actions needed by 2030. This net-zero scenario should become the primary scenario the IEA uses in its annual World Energy Outlook, which plays a very influential role in shaping energy-related investments of businesses and governments.

“We hope to engage with the IEA to translate this roadmap into concrete policy and private sector actions, and to discuss areas where assumptions may need to continue to evolve. For instance, the roadmap shows that almost 90% of electricity generation comes from renewable energy by 2050, including nearly 70% from solar and wind. But analysis from WRI and our partners shows that it is possible to have a scenario that goes even further on renewables.

“The Net Zero by 2030 report also calls for significant use of bioenergy at 100 exajoules, which is an area of concern given the critical requirements for food, ecosystem services and materials. The IEA’s bioenergy assumptions on both the demand and supply sides must be further explored and revised, as WRI research has found that even a modest increase in bioenergy production could greatly increase competition for land for food, foraging and wood.
“We look forward to working with the IEA and other experts, including from the Energy Transitions Commission, to articulate future refinements to this net-zero scenario and build robust, realistic and ambitious pathways to achieve the critical emissions reductions needed to ensure an equitable transition to a net-zero future.”