Top 10 Markers on Net Zero Roadmap

IEA's Net Zero by 2050 report highlights key measures that need to be implemented in the next 30 years

Occasionally a report comes along which doesn't just reflect on current trends but serves as an invaluable blueprint for governments, corporations and consumers. The IEA's Net Zero by 2050 report: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector is one such example. There is much to digest but we have focused on the timelines - the key milestones that need to be reached if net zero is to be achievable by 2050 if not before.

10: 2050: Almost 70% of electricity generation globally from solar PV and wind

By 2050, almost 90% of electricity generation comes  from  renewable sources, with wind and solar PV accounting for nearly 70%. Most of the remainder comes from nuclear.

Electricity accounts for almost 50% of total energy consumption in 2050. It plays a key role  across all sectors – from transport and buildings to industry – and is essential to produce low‐emissions fuels such as hydrogen. 

09: 2050: Milestones for Renewables and Industrial Production

The end game for Renewables and Industrial Production with the former accounting for 90% of electricity generation and the latter due to operate 90% of its processes with low emissions. Unprecedented levels of international co-operation will be required to achieve next zero goals, particularly in developing and low-income countries.

08: 2040: Half of aviation fuels to be low emissions

Half of aviation fuels are due to be low emissions by 2040 and oil demand will be half that of 2020 levels. Aviation and shipping remain "challenging" and it remains to be seen if construction meets its goals too; this is also the year when 50% of existing buildings must be retrofitted to zero-carbon-ready levels.

07: 2040: Net Zero Emissions Electricity Globally

From 2030 to 2050, 600GW of solar PV and 340GW of wind will be added each  year. The least‐efficient coal plants should have been phased out 10 years ago and all unabated coal by 2040. Investment in electricity grids triples to 2030 and remains elevated to 2050. Transforming the electricity 
sector in the way envisioned involves large capacity additions for all low‐emissions fuel and technologies. 

06: 2035: Overall Net-Zero Emissions Electricity in Advanced Economies

Hydrogen and ammonia start to emerge as  fuel inputs to electricity generation from 2030, used largely in combination with natural gas in gas turbines and with coal in coal‐fired  power  plants.  This  extends  the  life  of  existing  assets,  contributes  to  electricity  system  adequacy  and  reduces  the  overall  costs  of  transforming  the  electricity  sectors  in  many  countries. Advanced economies will need to lead the way with net-zero emissions electricity - although it won't be easy with global electricity demand projected to more than double between now and 2050.  

05: 2035: No New Internal Combustion Engine Car Sales

The year 2035 looks a pivotal one for transport: no new internal combustion engine car sales; 50% of heavy truck sales should be electric and all industrial electric motor sales are 'best in class'. It is also the year when most appliances and cooling systems sold are 'best in class' too. 

04: 2030s: 1020GW Annual Solar And Wind Additions

It's hard to underestimate the importance of solar and wind in the net zero equation. It is mainly the expansion of wind and solar that triples renewables generation by 2030 - and it increases more than eight-fold by 2050. The share of renewables in total electricity generation globally increases from 29% in 2020 to over 60% in 2030 and nearly 90% by 2050.

03: 2030s: All New Buildings Are Zero-Carbon-Ready

Energy‐related building codes are introduced in all regions by 2030 to ensure that virtually  all  new  buildings  constructed  are  zero‐carbon‐ready.  Minimum  energy  performance  standards  and  replacement  schemes  for  low‐efficiency  appliances  are  introduced or strengthened and by the 
mid‐2030s, nearly all household appliances sold worldwide are as efficient as the most efficient models 
available today. 

02: 2020s: A Decade Of Massive Clean Energy Expansion

Policies should be strengthened to speed the deployment of clean and efficient energy technologies. Mandates and standards are vital to driving consumer spending and industry investment into the most efficient technologies. Targets and competitive auctions for wind and solar can accelerate the electricity sector transition.

01: 2020s: No New Oil or Gas Fields Approved for Development

The fossil fuel clampdown is tightening: the report states there should be no new oil and gas fields approved for development and no new coal mines or mine extensions. The unwavering policy focus on climate  change in the net zero pathway results in a sharp decline in  fossil  fuel  demand,  meaning  that  the  focus  for  oil  and  gas  producers  switches  entirely  to  output  –  and  emissions  reductions  –  from  the  operation  of  existing  assets. 


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