IEA report shows renewables are keeping net zero in sight

Wind farm set in hilly area with beautiful sky in background (super investment)
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Record growth in renewable energy generation is keeping us on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its latest edition of the Net Zero Roadmap.

But enormous investment is required to fund the transition to net zero, with nearly $4.5 trillion per year needed from the start of the next decade.

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Since 2021, record growth in solar power capacity and electric car sales are in line with a pathway towards net zero emissions globally by mid-century, as are industry plans for the roll-out of new manufacturing capacity for them. This is significant, since those two technologies alone deliver one-third of the emissions reductions between today and 2030 in the pathway.

Clean energy innovation has also been delivering more options and lowering technology costs. In the IEA’s original Roadmap in 2021, technologies not yet available on the market delivered nearly half of the emissions reductions needed for net zero in 2050. That number has now fallen to around 35% in this year’s update.

However, the IEA says bolder action is needed to continue the momentum. In this year’s updated net zero pathway, global renewable power capacity triples by 2030. Meanwhile, the annual rate of energy efficiency improvements doubles, sales of electric vehicles and heat pumps rise sharply, and energy sector methane emissions fall by 75%. These strategies, which are based on proven and often cost-effective technologies for lowering emissions, together deliver more than 80% of the reductions needed by the end of the decade.

“Keeping alive the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C requires the world to come together quickly. The good news is we know what we need to do – and how to do it. Our 2023 Net Zero Roadmap, based on the latest data and analysis, shows a path forward,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said.

“But we also have a very clear message: Strong international cooperation is crucial to success. Governments need to separate climate from geopolitics, given the scale of the challenge at hand.”

“Removing carbon from the atmosphere is very costly. We must do everything possible to stop putting it there in the first place,” Dr Birol said.

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“The pathway to 1.5 °C has narrowed in the past two years, but clean energy technologies are keeping it open. With international momentum building behind key global targets such as tripling renewable capacity and doubling energy efficiency by 2030, which would together lead to a stronger decline in fossil fuel demand this decade, the COP28 climate summit in Dubai is a vital opportunity to commit to stronger ambition and implementation in the remaining years of this critical decade.”

Read the full report here.

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