World Energy Outlook 2021 shows that a new energy economy is emerging – but not yet fast enough to reach net zero by 2050 – News
A new energy economy is emerging around the world as solar, wind, electric vehicles, and other low-carbon technologies flourish. But as the crucial moment of COP26 approaches, the IEA’s new World Energy Outlook makes it clear that this progress in clean energy is still far too slow to sustainably reduce global emissions to net zero, and it underscores that Need for a clear signal of ambition and action. by governments in Glasgow.
At a time when policymakers are grappling with the effects of climate change and volatile energy markets, the World Energy Outlook 2021 (WEO-2021) is designed as a handbook for the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, which provides a pivotal opportunity for the To accelerate climate protection and the energy transition. The new analysis – which the IEA makes available online free of charge – provides clear warnings about the direction in which today’s political framework conditions are developing worldwide. But it also provides a clear analysis of how to navigate in a well-controlled manner a path that has a good chance of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C and avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
WEO-2021, the IEA’s annual flagship publication, shows that global coal consumption is growing sharply this year, despite the increasing use of solar and wind power, driving carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to their second largest annual increase in history.
“The hugely encouraging dynamism of the world for clean energy is clashing with the persistent dominance of fossil fuels in our energy systems,” said Fatih Birol, the IEA executive director. “Governments must resolve this at COP26 by sending a clear and unmistakable signal that they are committed to the rapid diffusion of the clean and resilient technologies of the future. The social and economic benefits of an accelerated energy transition are enormous and the costs of inaction are immense. “
The WEO-2021 makes it clear what is at stake: What the previous emission reduction commitments by governments mean for the energy sector and the climate. And it sets out what needs to be done to move beyond those promised commitments to a path that would achieve net zero global emissions by mid-century – the Net zero emissions by 2050 scenario from the landmark IEA report released in May, which coincides with capping global warming to 1.5 ° C.
In addition to the scenario of net zero emissions by 2050, the WEO-2021 examines two other scenarios in order to gain insights into how the global energy sector could develop over the next three decades – and what effects this would have. the Specified policy scenario represents a path that is based on the previous energy and climate measures of the governments as well as on concrete political initiatives under development. In this scenario, almost all of the net growth in energy demand through 2050 will be met from low-carbon sources, but this will keep annual emissions around the current level. As a result, global mean temperatures are still rising as they hit 2.6 ° C above pre-industrial levels in 2100.
the Announced promise scenario shows a way in which the net zero emissions promises announced so far by the governments can be implemented on time and in full. In this scenario, fossil fuel demand will peak by 2025 and global CO2 emissions will decrease by 40% by 2050. All sectors are declining, with the electricity sector providing the greatest performance by far. The global mean temperature rise in 2100 is kept at around 2.1 ° C.
For the first time in a WEO, oil demand eventually declines in all scenarios examined, although the timing and speed of the decline vary widely. If all of the climate promises announced today are fulfilled, the world would still be consuming 75 million oil barrels a day by 2050 – up from around 100 million today – but in the “net zero emissions by 2050” scenario this drops to 25 million. Demand for natural gas will rise in all scenarios over the next five years, but there will be strong divergences thereafter.
After decades of growth, the outlook for coal-fired power plants is declining in the announced pledges scenario – a decline that could be further accelerated by China’s recent announcement that it will end its support for the construction of coal-fired power plants abroad. This move could lead to the cancellation of planned projects that would save around 20 billion tonnes of cumulative CO2 emissions by 2050 – an amount equivalent to the European Union’s total emissions savings, which would be net zero by 2050.
The differences between the results of the Announced Pledges scenario and the “Net Zero Emissions by 2050” scenario are profound and underscore the need for more ambitious commitments if the world is to be net zero by mid-century.
“Today’s climate promises would only lead to 20% of the emissions reductions that are necessary by 2030 to put the world on a path towards net zero by 2050,” said Dr. Birol. “To get there, investments in clean energy projects and infrastructure will have to more than triple over the next ten years. About 70% of this additional expenditure has to be made in emerging and developing countries, where funding is scarce and capital is up to seven times more expensive than in advanced economies. “
Insufficient investment adds to uncertainty about the future. Spending on oil and natural gas was negatively impacted by price drops in 2014-15 and again in 2020. As a result, they are geared towards a world with stagnating or even falling demand. At the same time, the expenditures for the clean energy transition are far below what would be necessary to meet future demand in a sustainable manner.
“There is a risk of further turbulence for the global energy markets,” said Dr. Birol. “We are not investing enough to meet future energy needs, and the uncertainties are preparing the ground for an impending volatile phase. The way to resolve this mismatch is clear – an important boost to clean energy investments across all technologies and all markets. But that has to happen quickly. “
The report emphasizes that the additional investment to reach net zero by 2050 is less burdensome than it appears. More than 40% of the required emission reductions would result from measures that pay for themselves, such as increasing efficiency, limiting gas leaks or installing wind or solar systems in places where they are the most competitive power generation technologies today.
These investments also offer tremendous economic opportunities. The successful pursuit of net zero would create a market for wind turbines, solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, electrolysers, and fuel cells well in excess of $ 1 trillion per year by 2050, comparable in size to the current oil market. Even in a much more electrified energy system, fuel suppliers remain great opportunities to produce and supply low carbon gases. In the announced commitments scenario alone, an additional 13 million workers would be employed in clean energy and related sectors by 2030, while that number doubles in the “net zero emissions by 2050” scenario.