IEA Updates Roadmap for Global Net-Zero Emissions

by Adenike Adeodun

In 2022, energy sector emissions hit a concerning record of 37 billion metric tonnes. This marks a 1% rise from figures before the pandemic. But where does this leave the global goal for net-zero emissions?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) provides insights in its latest report. It suggests a potential peak in the demand for coal, oil, and gas this decade. Surprisingly, this peak could come from the fast adoption of clean energy technology, even without introducing new climate policies. Still, there’s a challenge. The IEA warns that our efforts aren’t sufficient to reach the 1.5 °C target.

Remember the IEA’s 2021 report titled “Net Zero Emissions by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector”? It became a crucial guide, showing a way for the energy sector. It aligned with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the rise of global temperatures.

Fast forward to 2023. This year’s update reflects post-2021 global changes. Global governments launched clean energy initiatives in response to the pandemic and geopolitical events, like Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

On the renewable energy side, there’s good news. If current trends continue, we could meet solar PV and battery demand by 2030. According to a report by ESI Africa, these sectors are on track, matching the 2021 report’s goals.

So, what’s the outcome? If the Net Zero Emissions (NZE) scenario unfolds as expected, CO2 emissions from the energy sector could drop by a significant 35% by 2030 compared to 2022.

Reaching the 1.5 °C target depends on various actions. We need a boost in renewable energy, better energy efficiency, reduced methane emissions, and expanded electrification. These steps can lead to most of the emission reductions required by 2030. Moreover, in the NZE scenario, the clean energy boom could reduce fossil fuel demand by over 25% this decade.

Transitioning, however, is not just about tech. It also means policy changes, like phasing out coal power plants. This makes room for cleaner energy sources.

The IEA suggests a bold move. They recommend ramping up global renewable capacity to 11,000 GW by 2030. Also, doubling our efforts in energy efficiency could match the energy used in oil-based road transport today. Both actions would ensure more security and affordability.

But the IEA is clear. No shortcuts exist to the 1.5 °C goal. By 2035, advanced economies need to reduce emissions by 80% and emerging markets by 60%, using 2022 as a reference.

There’s still a challenge ahead. Current national commitments don’t match individual net-zero pledges. These pledges are crucial for the world to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

With COP28 around the corner, the IEA’s updated roadmap serves as a timely global call to action.

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