The International Energy Association has recommended an immediate halt to new oil, gas and coal projects as part of a “road map” for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change projected that global warming could be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels if energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were reduced to net zero by mid-century.
But in a landmark report issued on Tuesday, the IEA, which advises nations on energy policy, warned that nations will need to move much more aggressively away from fossil fuels if the Paris goal is to be achieved.
“The sheer magnitude of changes needed to get to net zero emissions by 2050 is still not fully understood by many governments and investors,” Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director, told The New York Times.
The report, entitled “Net Zero by 2050: a Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector,” recommends “the immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies,” with annual additions of solar-generated energy to reach 630 gigawatts by 2030 and those of wind power to reach 390 gigawatts.
For solar energy, “it is equivalent to installing the world’s current largest solar park roughly every day,” the IEA noted.
Additionally, there should be “no investment in new fossil fuel supply projects, and no further final investment decisions for new unabated coal plants.” By 2050, the report said, almost 90% of electricity generation would come from renewable sources, with wind and solar together accounting for almost 70%.
According to the Times, “While academics and environmentalists have made similar recommendations before, this is the first time the International Energy Agency has outlined ways to accomplish such drastic cuts in emissions.”
“It’s a huge shift in messaging if they’re saying there’s no need to invest in new fossil fuel supply,” said Kelly Trout, senior research analyst at Oil Change International, an environmental advocacy group.
Dave Jones, global program lead at climate group Ember, said the report signals “the start of the end” for the oil and gas industry. “It shows that any new fossil investment is made knowing it is inconsistent with a 1.5 degree world,” he told CNN.