The International Energy Agency on Tuesday published the first comprehensive road map for decarbonizing the energy sector and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
In the goal "requires nothing short of a total transformation of the energy systems that underpin our economies," IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in the foreword of "Net Zero by 2050 — A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector." "This gap between rhetoric and action needs to close if we are to have a fighting chance of reaching net zero by 2050 and limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius."
Reaching that goal hinges on an unprecedented clean technology push to 2030, the report said, calling for "immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies that already exist. Ever‐cheaper renewable energy technologies give electricity the edge and the biggest innovation opportunities including advanced batteries, hydrogen electrolysers, and direct air capture and storage," the report said.
The IEA road map predicts that the fossil-fuel sector will face significant demand reduction, and bolsters investor expectations for fossil-fuel companies to set net-zero targets and have transition strategies, said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, a non-profit organization promoting environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy and coalitions.
"It's good to see this pathway, which IEA says is difficult but doable. What they've done is set forward a global pathway. It's narrow and it will take government action," Ms. Fugere said in an interview.
"It will continue to drive and support change. We have seen a lot of net-zero commitments. What we are still lacking is governments stepping in, and I think this underscores the necessity and the potential for government action. It also underscores the potential benefits of investing in clean energy," she said.
"It demonstrates what some of the largest investors have been saying, that there is major risk in transitioning to net zero. If you are not transiting to net zero, your company is at risk. This just provides more incentives to companies to respond appropriately."