Timeline: What’s included in the IEA’s new Net-Zero Roadmap for energy?

Published on Tuesday (26 September), the Agency’s new Roadmap report is an update on a key tool first produced in 2021 in the run-up to COP26 in Glasgow. It is intended to help policymakers, regulators and other key bodies make science-based decisions to deliver a just energy transition aligned with the Paris Agreement.

The roadmap concludes that it is still possible to transition the global energy system to net-zero by 2050 on a 1.5C pathway – and, indeed, that it would cost just a fraction of the trillions currently poured into the system each year.

The scenario it explores would save $12trn, cumulatively, in terms of energy system operating costs, by 2050. It would also ensure universal access to modern forms of energy by 2030.

Promisingly, the technologies needed to deliver almost two-thirds of the emissions reductions needed through to 2050 exist today.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol has stated that the main remaining challenges to delivering the scenario outlined are political will and international collaboration for unprecedented investment in clean energy, energy infrastructure and improved efficiencies.

Here, we outline the key investment and policy milestones detailed in the new roadmap.

You can read edie’s initial news coverage of the roadmap launch here. 

In the early 2020s…

  • The development of all upstream oil and gas projects with long lead times is halted
  • The development of all new coal mines and coal mine extensions ends
  • Development is halted for all new unabated coal-fired power plants
  • Fossil fuel investment only continues in existing oil and gas assets and already approved projects, with a focus on efficiency
  • All countries make a concerted effort to scale grid infrastructure to cope with more renewables and with electrification
  • All countries make a concerted effort to scale energy storage
  • Efforts to scale up heat pump manufacturing and installations are renewed, with an ambition set for them to account for 50% of all global heating equipment sales by 2026
  • Global collaboration on sourcing critical minerals for the energy transition is solidified

In the mid-2020s…

  • Gas-fired power generation peaks and begins to enter a long-term decline
  • Coal and oil boiler sales end globally
  • Heat pumps account for half of all global heating equipment sales

By 2030…

  • Annual investment in the energy transition reaches $45bn, triple the level provided in the early 2020s
  • There is universal global access to modern forms of energy
  • Global fossil fuel demand is 25% lower than in the early 2020s
  • The share of fossil fuels in final energy consumption is 9% lower than in 2022
  • Methane emissions from the energy sector are 75% lower than in the early 2020s
  • The annual global rate of energy efficiency improvements has doubled within a decade
  • The annual global rate of renewable energy capacity additions has tripled within a decade
  • Heat pumps provide around 35% of global heating demand; 290 million dwellings have them fitted
  • Electric vehicles account for two-thirds of new car and van sales globally
  • Electricity transmission and distribution grids are around 10 million kilometres bigger than in 2020, thanks to a doubling of investment
  • Low-emission hydrogen production capacity has increased more than tenfold on 2022 levels
  • Utility-scale battery storage capacity is 36 times higher than in 2022
  • At least 2.5% of existing buildings are retrofitted annually from this point through 2050
  • Dirty cooking fuels have been phased out

In 2035…

  • Developed nations stop selling new petrol and diesel cars and vans
  • Developed nations achieve net-zero electricity sectors
  • Emissions in wealthy nations are 80% lower than in the early 2020s
  • Emissions in emerging and developing nations are 60% lower than in the early 2020s

In 2040…

  • Developing and emerging nations stop selling new petrol and diesel cars and vans
  • Emissions from transport and heavy industry, globally, are some 60% lower than in 2022
  • China delivers a net-zero electricity sector
  • All nations end the use of coal for electricity production
  • New petrol and diesel truck sales end in China and in developed economies
  • Around half of buildings are operationally net-zero
  • The global temperature increase on pre-industrial times will be 1.6C; the increase beyond 1.5C will be temporary

By 2045…

  • Most developed nations reach net-zero
  • Most emerging and developing nations reach net-zero electricity sectors, having reduced the use of unabated fossil fuels by 95% by 2040
  • New petrol and diesel truck sales end in developing and emerging markets

By 2050…

  • China reaches net-zero
  • Global fossil fuel demand is 80% lower than in the early 2020s
  • Fossil fuel emissions are 97% lower than in the early 2020s
  • Global nuclear power capacity is more than twice as high as in 2022, at 916GW. It accounts for 8% of the global generation share.
  • Global carbon capture capacity reaches 1.7 Gigatons
  • 80% of all hydrogen production is green, the remaining 20% is accounted for by nuclear and ‘blue’ hydrogen
  • All low-carbon hydrogen produced is used industrially, not to heat buildings
  • Global electricity generation rates are 2.5 times higher than they were in 2022
  • Global energy flexibility capacity has at least quadrupled on 2022 levels
  • 49% of industrial energy consumption is accounted for by electricity, up from 23% in 2022
  • 875 million dwellings have heat pumps fitted
  • District heating is “virtually fully decarbonized”
  • All vehicles, including heavy vehicles, are either electric or use alternative fuels

… and beyond

  • Most developing and emerging economies, notably India, will not reach net-zero emissions until many years after 2050, in the IEA’s view
  • The global temperature increase on pre-industrial times will be 1.4C in 2100; the breach of 1.5C will have been temporary

Comments (1)

  1. Ian Byrne says:

    Great summary, and in some ways I am surprised that we can still stay below 1.5C. But is there any political will to make even a small part of this happen?

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