Net Zero in 2050: A roadmap for the global energy system was released by the International Energy Agency on May 18, and has been described as a “bombshell”, and a “landmark”. Why? The normally conservative IEA describes the global energy future bluntly and urgently, calling for “…. from today, no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants. By 2035, there are no sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars, and by 2040, the global electricity sector has already reached net-zero emissions.”
This special report claims 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.” It sets out 400 indicators for “an economically productive pathway to 2050”, where energy production will be dominated by renewables instead of fossil fuels. The report also flags and discusses bioenergy, carbon capture, and behavioural changes as “key uncertainties” for the future.
Highlights from the discussion of employment in Chapter 4:
- In 2021, approx. roughly 40 million people work directly in the oil, gas, coal, renewables, bioenergy and energy network industries .
- By 2030 in the Net Zero scenario, 30 million more people will be working in clean energy, efficiency and low‐emissions technologies.
- By 2030, employment in oil, gas and coal fuel supply and power plants will decline by around 5 million jobs.
- Nearly two‐thirds of workers in the emerging clean energy sectors will be highly skilled by 2030, and the majority will require substantial training.
- The new jobs created in the net zero economy will have more geographic flexibility. Around 40% are jobs located close to where the work is being done, e.g. building efficiency improvements or wind turbine installation, and the remaining are jobs tied to manufacturing sites.
Summaries and reaction to the IEA report:
“Planet’s pathway to net-zero means no new oil and gas spending, IEA says” in the Globe and Mail
“Nations Must Drop Fossil Fuels, Fast, World Energy Body Warns” in the New York Times
“No new investment in fossil fuels demands top energy economist” in The Guardian
“IEA: Tripling the Speed of Efficiency Progress a Must for a Net-Zero Carbon World“ from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) outlines the report’s findings regarding energy efficiency
Reaction by Oil Change International describes the importance of the adjustment to the IEA modelling – it follows years of campaigning by climate advocates through the FixTheWEO campaign, calling for the IEA to align its annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) report with the 1.5 degree C Paris Agreement goals.