Picture This: Net Zero by 2050

FOLLOWING A RAFT of net zero target announcements in 2020 and 2021, scrutiny is mounting about the plans to get there. Some countries have detailed outlines of how they will reduce their emissions to net zero, but many still do not. Tanks to countries with detailed plans we have an idea of the task at hand to decarbonize at the country level, but it is hard to imagine what it will take on a global basis. This is especially true given that the current global pledges won’t get us to net zero in time to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C.

Abstract

FOLLOWING A RAFT of net zero target announcements in 2020 and 2021, scrutiny is mounting about the plans to get there. Some countries have detailed outlines of how they will reduce their emissions to net zero, but many still do not. Tanks to countries with detailed plans we have an idea of the task at hand to decarbonize at the country level, but it is hard to imagine what it will take on a global basis. This is especially true given that the current global pledges won’t get us to net zero in time to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C.

FOLLOWING A RAFT of net zero target announcements in 2020 and 2021, scrutiny is mounting about the plans to get there. Some countries have detailed outlines of how they will reduce their emissions to net zero, but many still do not. Tanks to countries with detailed plans we have an idea of the task at hand to decarbonize at the country level, but it is hard to imagine what it will take on a global basis. This is especially true given that the current global pledges won’t get us to net zero in time to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C.

To address this problem, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its “Net Zero by 2050” report. The study’s detailed road map outlines the policies, technologies, and behavioral changes needed to achieve a net zero energy system in just three decades. The energy sector holds the key to decarbonizing the global economy: energy-related emissions account for about three-quarters of total CO₂ emissions.

A daunting picture emerges from the report: the energy sector needs a complete overhaul. To succeed, governments must act immediately and decisively to end fossil fuel consumption and craft a resilient energy economy dominated by renewables such as solar and wind power. The pathway to success is narrow, but the IEA report makes it clear that it is achievable. Decisive climate action now will put the global economy on a stronger and more sustainable footing over the long run. FD

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Growing Commitments

Citation: Finance & Development 0058, 003; 10.5089/9781513590349.022.A015

Source: United Nations.Note: Country borders do not necessarily reflect the official position of the IMF. NDC = nationally determined contribution.

ART: SHOWYOURSTRIPES.INFO, PROFESSOR ED HAWKINS (UNIVERSITY OF READING)

ANDREW STANLEY is on the staff of Finance & Development.

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Emissions Target

Citation: Finance & Development 0058, 003; 10.5089/9781513590349.022.A015

Source: International Energy Agency, “Net Zero by 2050.”Note: GtC02 = gigatons of carbon dioxide.
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Source: International Energy Agency (IEA). 2021. “Net Zero by 2050.” Paris.Note: Hollow circles represent negative emissions. GtC02 = gigatons of carbon dioxide; Mt = metric tons.