There should be no new investment in coal or gas, while solar and wind projects would need to be increased by fourfold, for the world to reach net zero emissions by 2050, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.
The first comprehensive report on how to reach the key target to reduce global warming also called for a massive deployment of new renewable technologies, including hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, to ensure they were at a commercial scale over the next two decades.
“Doing so requires nothing short of a total transformation of the energy systems that underpin our economies,” the report said.
The IEA also called for a ban on the sale of internal combustion engine cars by 2035, as part of 400 milestones that should be reached to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The report was seized upon by environmentalists and climate change activists who said it was the death knell for fossil fuels, especially coal and gas – which has been touted by the Morrison government as the transition fuel to a low-emissions economy.
But the IEA is trying to show countries the pathway to start moving towards the goal of net zero by 2050 with the aim of restricting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees.
IEA executive director Fatih Birol said achieving net zero by the middle of the decade was “narrow, but still achievable”, but would need tough action from governments.
The IEA’s report will only increase pressure on companies to show how their business model is consistent with the objectives of the Paris agreement.
— Erwin Jackson, policy director at Investor Group on Climate Change
”The IEA’s pathway to this brighter future brings a historic surge in clean energy investment that creates millions of new jobs and lifts global economic growth,” he said.
“Moving the world onto that pathway requires strong and credible policy actions from governments, underpinned by much greater international co-operation.“
The report said there should be no new investment in coal-fired power stations, with the least efficient plants phased out by 2030 and newer ones retrofitted by 2040.
It also warned against any new oil or gas field developments.
The energy mix by 2050 should be made up of 90 per cent renewables, with wind and solar making up about 70 per cent and nuclear power the remainder.
The report acknowledged there would need to be an “immediate and massive” deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies to reach the net zero 2050 target.
This would require annual additions of solar photovoltaic energy to reach 630 gigawatts by 2030 and those of wind power to reach 390 gigawatts – four times the record level set in 2020.
“For solar PV, it is equivalent to installing the world’s current largest solar park roughly every day,” the IEA said.
”A major worldwide push to increase energy efficiency is also an essential part of these efforts, resulting in the global rate of energy efficiency improvements averaging 4 per cent a year through 2030 – about three times the average over the last two decades.”
The report said most of the global reductions in carbon emissions between now and 2030 in the net zero pathway would come from technologies readily available today.
But in 2050, almost half the reductions come from technologies that are currently only at the demonstration or prototype phase – putting pressure on governments and companies to drive innovation.
Investor Group on Climate Change director of policy Erwin Jackson said the IEA report showed net zero emissions by 2050 was achievable and could create new jobs.
It would also put pressure on governments and companies to wind down investments in fossil fuel assets, he said.
”Investors are increasingly wary of fossil fuel companies and assets for some time due to the financial risks they increasingly pose in a carbon-constrained world,” he said.
“The IEA’s report will only increase pressure on companies to show how their business model is consistent with the objectives of the Paris agreement.”