A landmark report from the International Energy Agency calls on all nations to act faster and more aggressively to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
As COP26 looms, the International Energy Agency has just delivered a roadmap aiming to decarbonise the energy sector by 2050. The aim is to limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels. Overall, the report calls for no longer investing in new coal, oil or gas power plants. Nations are also urged to stop the sale of new diesel and gasoline vehicles as soon as possible.
An opinion that counts for decision-makers
While researchers are warning of the dangers of global warming and have been making similar recommendations for several years now, this is the first time that the International Energy Agency has proposed ways to sharply reduce GHG emissions. The good thing is that she is very influential politically. It is also often viewed by investors as the basis for long-term planning.
“If this agency says it is no longer necessary to invest in new fossil fuel supplies, then this can be a real game-changer“Said Kelly Trout, a senior research analyst at Oil Change International, an environmental advocacy group.
Unfortunately, the magnitude of the changes needed to achieve these goals is not yet not fully understood by many governments and investors.
Some major economies have made good commitments to zero emissions by mid-century, but all the means are obviously not yet implemented. China, for example, is still investing in new coal-fired power plants, while some companies in the United States and Canada continue to target new oil and gas fields.
The International Energy Agency is not just sounding the alarm bells. It also proposes a roadmap likely to accelerate the transition.
- From this year, countries must stop approving new coal-fired power plants unless they are equipped with carbon capture technology. Countries must also stop approving the development of new oil and gas fields.
- By 2025, governments will have to start banning the sale of new oil and gas heaters to heat buildings. Conversely, they will have to invest in electric heat pumps.
- By 2030, electric vehicles should represent around 60% of new car sales worldwide. (We only reach 5% today.)
- By 2035, automakers will stop selling new gasoline or diesel passenger vehicles. More than half of new heavy trucks will need to be electric. Coal and gas emitting plants will have to be abandoned in favor of less polluting technologies such as wind, solar or nuclear power.
- By 2040, all remaining coal-fired power plants will need to be shut down or fitted with carbon capture technology. About half of all air travel will need to be powered by cleaner alternatives to jet fuel.
- By 2050, practically all cars will have to run on batteries or on hydrogen.
Research and development
Along with these efforts, an accelerated research program to improve clean energy technologies will also be needed. In fact, according to the report, progress in reducing emissions over the next decade can be achieved using existing “green” technologies, but they will not be sufficient. The agency believes thataround half of emissions reductions by 2050 will come from technologies that are still at the demonstration or prototype stage.
Finally, governments will have to be attentive to the geopolitical upheavals inherent in these transformations. For example, the extraction of critical metals in some regions is bound to increase over the next decade. The sharp drop in oil and gas production will also invite low-cost producers in the Middle East regions to assume a dominant share of the remaining market.