New report calls for complete transformation of how we produce, transport and consume energy

Posted on 18 May 2021

It is necessary to identify ways the energy sector, the source of three quarters of current global greenhouse gas emissions, can reach net-zero by 2050, says the International Energy Agency.

(18 May 2021) - A new  report published today by the International Energy Agency (IEA) -  Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector - sets out views on how the global energy sector can reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.


The report calls for a complete transformation of “how we produce, transport and consume energy,” and details more than 400 sectoral and technology milestones to guide the energy transition. 


Responding to the findings of the report, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF Global Lead Climate & Energy said WWF welcomed the landmark report from the IEA. “It is vital that we all have the common goal of halving emissions in the next decade, as recommended by scientists. The transformation of the energy sector is key to averting the worst impacts of climate change, given that it is the source of around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions.”


While the growing political consensus on reaching net zero is cause for considerable optimism, along with strong signals in the real economy,  “the changes required to reach net-zero emissions globally [will require] a huge amount of work,” the report says. 


“The enthusiasm of governments to announce net-zero emission targets is giving much needed momentum to scaling up climate action in line with science ahead of the pivotal COP26. They must now ensure they have the plans and the means to transform the energy sector, with concrete phase-out targets for all fossil-fuel sources,” Pulgar-Vidal said.


He said while most of the national climate plans already submitted to the UN, feature energy-related targets, measures and policies, “not enough of these match what science says is necessary to keep global warming to 1.5°C. We have solutions we can implement now. Political leaders must take action at the scale and scope necessary to ensure the evolution of a new, sustainable energy sector by 2030 at the latest,” said Pulgar-Vidal.


The report highlights three main routes to net-zero in the energy sector: making the most of existing technologies (e.g. solar, wind, energy efficiency, electric vehicles); pushing innovation (like hydrogen, Carbon Capture and Storage); and finally, drastically reducing the use of fossil fuels.


Dean Cooper, WWF Global Energy Transition Lead said, “We’re very pleased to see clear target dates from the IEA for no more fossil fuels and commitment to WWF’s call for 100% renewable energy. As the IEA has stressed, this is just one pathway to the final goal. We still need to shift thinking on bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, and hydro to avoid catastrophic disruption to communities and habitats. We need to quickly expand the global production capacity for solar and wind. But, we can learn from our joint experience and take the best approach.”


The energy transition is not only about getting the climate into its natural equilibrium, says Vanessa Perez-Cirera, WWF Global Deputy Lead Climate & Energy. “It is also about life as we know it. That means we need to consider what is the best energy mix to sustain the natural world, which we all need to survive. The report is a crucial step in the right direction. But we are missing an acknowledgment of the importance of nature, and that all energy and infrastructure development will have consequences for nature that should be avoided or minimized. We cannot destroy ecosystems and species while we are fixing the planet. We need to do both.”


For further information, contact Mandy Jean Woods 

Climate activists marching in New York in 2014, demanding governments scale up renewable energy.