IEA Presents 'Handbook' for Glasgow Climate Talks

Copyright © 2021 Energy Intelligence Group

The world can still limit global warming to 1.5°C, but current pledges from more than 50 countries to achieve net-zero carbon emissions won't be enough to get there, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Wednesday.

To achieve that goal, all countries must work together to speed up the transition away from oil, coal and natural gas, with rich countries helping less affluent nations, the IEA argues in its latest annual World Energy Outlook.

It's no coincidence that the report was published less than three weeks before the start of climate talks in Scotland. The agency says it is "designed as a handbook for the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow."

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told the Energy Intelligence Forum 2021 last week that the world has a “very narrow” path to get to net-zero emissions by 2050.

“It is a race against time," he said. "The next 10 years are critical."

Available Technologies

The new report provides the world with a checklist of practical measures it can start implementing today to get on the right path to net zero.

This builds on the agency's net-zero road map published in May, that sent shockwaves through the global energy industry.

"All the technologies needed to achieve deep emissions cuts to 2030 are available," the report says, including wind energy and solar power.

Over the next decade, governments must maintain "a laser‐like focus on driving clean electrification, improving efficiency, reducing methane emissions and turbocharging innovation," says the IEA.

Governments need to push for change well beyond their current pledges and enlist the support of local communities, companies and investors, the report says.

Beyond 2030

After 2030, further reductions in emissions will depend more on scaling up technologies that are still in their infancy today, like hydrogen and carbon capture.

If all of the current national net zero pledges were to be implemented in full, the world would still be 2.1°C warmer by 2050 — well above the goal of limiting the rise to 1.5°.

If warming were capped at 1.5°, crude oil consumption would fall to 25 million barrels per day by 2050 after peaking in 2025, the IEA calculates.

But based only on current pledges, the world would still need 75 million b/d by 2050, the IEA reckons, down from the current level of around 100 million b/d.

Helping Others

To put the world on track to net zero, some 70% of the $4 trillion of annual energy investment needed by 2030 must flow to emerging economies, with development banks assisting if projects are not yet commercially viable, the IEA says.

Developed economies must help developing nations, otherwise reductions in rich countries' emissions will be offset by rising emissions in emerging markets as they build more houses, roads and factories for their growing populations.

Some of those funds should be used to support countries that have made only a limited contribution to climate change so far but are growing rapidly, the IEA notes.

The investments required to reach net zero are “less burdensome than it might appear," the report says, arguing that "more than 40% of the required emissions reductions would come from measures that pay for themselves."

The agency acknowledges that “energy transitions can be volatile and disjointed affairs, characterized by competing interests and stop‐go policies.”

But it says the Glasgow conference needs to persuade countries to look beyond their own borders and ensure that the fight against climate change is truly a global effort.

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