Roadmap for Net Zero by 2050

News: Recently, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) released its Net Zero Emissions (NZE) Roadmap – named ‘Net Zero by 2050’. It is the World’s first comprehensive energy roadmap which comes ahead of the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 climate change convention in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021.

Net Zero Emission:

  • ‘Net zero emissions’refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere.
  • Climate pledges by governments till date even if fully achieved would fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net zero by 2050 and give the world an even chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C.

Details of the Roadmap:

Objectives:

  • To examine the impacts of announced NZE pledges and what they might mean for the energy sector.
  • To develop a new energy-sector pathway towards achieving NZE globally by 2050.
  • To set out key policy recommendations for governments to act upon in the near-term, and a long-term agenda for change to achieve net-zero goals, including with a view to reaching other Sustainable Development Goals.

Principles:

  • Technology neutrality, with adoption driven by costs, technological readiness, country and market conditions and trade-offs with wider societal goals. Technology Neutrality is generally described as the freedom of individuals and organizations to choose the most appropriate and suitable technology to their needs and requirements for development, acquisition, use or commercialisation, without dependencies on knowledge involved as information or data.
  • Universal international cooperation, in which all countries contribute to net zero, with an eye to a ‘just transition’ and where advanced economies lead.
  • An orderly transition that seeks to minimise stranded assets where possible, while ensuring energy security and minimising volatility in energy markets.

Milestones:

  • More than 400 milestones to guide the global journey to net zero by 2050 which include:
  • No investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants.
  • No sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars by 2035.
  • The global electricity sector should reach net-zero emissions by 2040.
  • It calls for annual additions of solar power to reach 630 gigawatts by 2030, and those of wind power to reach 390 gigawatts.
  • Together, this is four times the record level set in 2020.
  • It suggests the following on global electricity generation towards 2050:
  • 714% more renewables.
  • 104% more nuclear.
  • 93% less coal (and all remaining coal with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).
  • 85% less natural gas (with 73% of that with CCS).

Significance:

  • It is supposed to provide a pathway to bridge the current gap between rhetoric and reality in reducing GreenHouse Gas (GHG) emissions from the energy and industry sectors.

Criticism:

  • IEA did not consider historical emitters, ignoring the principle of ‘climate justice’.
  • Developed countries benefited from the Industrial Revolution at the cost of emitting GHGs, leading to climate change.
  • Hence, they have the economies to decarbonise, allowing space for poor and developing countries to get financing and innovation organised to switch to cleaner energy options.
  • There is potentially an over-reliance on behavioral change to consume less energy.
  • Regulations will be essential to positively motivate constructive social change in economies.