The International Energy Agency's road map for the energy sector has been updated to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It raises the need for swiftly switching to renewable energy while minimizing the use of technologies that are still largely in demonstration and prototype phase today, such as carbon capture and hydrogen fuels.
In 2021, the IEA, first created to safeguard the world's oil supply, unveiled its groundbreaking road map with a strong forecast for fossil fuels, calling for no more investment in new oil, gas, and coal projects. The Paris climate accord detailed the steps every country must take to meet the objectives of the Paris climate accord, which aims to reduce global warming to almost 1.5 degrees Celsius by achieving net-zero emissions. But the planet is still cooling, reaching 1.2 degrees Celsius - causing more extreme weather and climate disasters and pushing the IEA to revise its global road map to address new reality.
The new technologies, which include hydrogen fuel cells for heavy vehicles and devices that filter CO2 emissions from smokestacks or ambient air, now account for 35 percent of emissions reductions rather than nearly 50 percent.
Today,hydrogen production is more of a climate problem than a climate solution, the report says. While hydrogen is nothing new, most of it is made up of gas, which is used as a fuel. Some nations, including the US, are taking steps to make hydrogen more sustainable by using renewable energy or fossil fuels paired with carbon capture. If the aircraft takes off, it could create cleaner fuel for ships, ships, and planes.
But building out the infrastructure for hydrogen is proving to be a bigger barrier than anticipated, Jones said. The electric charging infrastructure, while still limited, is growing rapidly, with the potential for more efficient charging. The IEA's updated road map shrinks the share of fuel-cell electric heavy-duty vehicles on the road in 2050 by up to 40 percent compared to its initial 2021 forecast.
The road map also significantly reduces the role of carbon capture technologies by around 40 percent in emissions reductions from power generation. The US Department of Energy has spent hundreds of millions on failed carbon capture projects mostly because of 'factors affecting their economic viability', according to a 2021 report by the Government Accountability Office.
IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in a press release. If pollution doesn't fall fast enough and the planet warms beyond 1.5 degrees, nations can attempt to utilize carbon capture technologies that are 'expensive and unproven at scale' to reverse some of that warming, the press release says. But relying on those technologies would bring more risks, he said.
The report notes that renewable power capacity worldwide must triple by 2030 in order to stop generating planet-heating pollution in the first place. By the end of the decade, spending on clean energy would have to double from $1.8 trillion this year to $4.5 trillion. The wealthiest nations in the world must also double their energy efficiency, and the world's wealthiest nations must reach zero emissions years ahead of the world's global goal in 2050.
The exactitude of this updated road map is crucial. It follows the UN's first global report card on how well countries are tackling climate change. emissions are rising despite the need to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.
The UN held a climate summit in New York last week to push countries to increase their energy commitments, but officials from China and the US didn't participate. They will have another shot at the UN climate conference in Dubai in November.