Prioritise R&D spending says IEA report

20 May 2021 | Muriel Cozier

‘…transitioning to a net-zero energy system is also a huge opportunity for our economies.’

According to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) climate pledges by governments to date – even if fully achieved – would fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero by 2050.

The 224 page report: Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, is said to be ‘the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net-zero energy system by 2050 while ensuring  stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access and enabling robust economic growth.’

Covering the energy spectrum from oil and gas, bioenergy, carbon capture to behavioural changes, the report asserts that in the near term most of the global reductions in CO2 will come from technologies available now. However, by 2050 almost half the reductions will come from technologies that are currently only at the prototype or demonstration phase. The IEA says this demands that governments quickly increase and reprioritise their spending on research and development, as well as on demonstrating and deploying clean energy technologies, putting them at the core of energy and climate policy. Progress in the areas of advanced batteries, electrolysers for hydrogen, and direct air capture and storage can be particularly useful, the IEA says.

Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director commented: ‘Our Roadmap shows that the enormous challenge of rapidly transitioning to a net-zero energy system is also a huge opportunity for our economies. The transition must be fair and inclusive, leaving nobody behind.’ Birol added: ‘The pathway laid out in our Roadmap is global in scope, but each country will need to design its own strategy, taking into account its own specific circumstances.’

Welcoming the report, Alok Sharma, COP26 President added: ‘I am encouraged that it underlines the great value of international collaboration, without which the transition to global net-zero could be delayed by decades.’

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