The International Energy Agency (IEA) said that no new fossil fuel boilers should be sold anymore starting in 2025 if the world really wants to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the BBC has reported. The agency published a special report and noted that this is just one of 400 steps on the road to net-zero emissions that the traditionally fossil-friendly agency recommends. Another step would be the sales of new gas and diesel cars ending by 2035. The IEA pointed out that from now on, there is no place for new coal, oil, or gas exploration or supplies.
The new report has been widely received as a major contribution to the world’s road to COP26 in Glasgow. This is when countries will try to agree on the measures that are needed to put the Paris climate agreement into practice — in other words, walking the walk. The IEA also noted that the energy sector is the source of almost 75% of the emissions of greenhouse gases that are warming the planet.
The article noted that most homes will be warmed by heat pumps which are like a reverse refrigerator and these sell for upwards of £6,000. It also noted the possibility of hydrogen-fueled boilers, but the potential there seems much more limited. However, even with heat pumps, governments need to offer more help to homeowners. Also, heat pumps need a lot of insulation, and this isn’t always possible or easy/cheap.
The new plan to cut emissions in half by 2030 and to zero in 2050 includes the creation of millions of jobs while boosting economic growth. It also noted that, by 2050, our global economy will be twice as large as it is today, with an additional 2 billion extra people. Despite that, it hopes that demand for energy will drop by 8%.
“There is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway.”
The article noted that the IEA’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 will need massive investments and international cooperation on a large scale. The plan will also have direct impacts on consumers all around the globe. One critical source of carbon emissions in many countries that’s responsible for 20% of CO2 in the US and the UK is heating your home with gas or oil. I am guilty of this — I have a gas stove and 2 space heaters. Well, one recently caught fire (I put it out!) but my apartment is in an older building that isn’t set up for modern heating.
Many of the buildings in poorer communities are older and in need of work. However, for those in impoverished areas, if their landlords were to fix the problems or upgrade the homes with newer technology, the rent would go up sky high and people wouldn’t be able to afford their homes or apartments. So, I agree with the article that this will not be an easy shift. The article noted that it wouldn’t be easy for the building sector, but for those living in areas that are low income, this shift will be even harder as they struggle to find a place where they can afford to live.
Maria Pastukhova, from the E3G environmental think tank, touched upon what this means in terms of consumption behavior. “It will be very difficult because it means a massive turn in the consumption behavior,” said Pastukhova. “The building sector is maybe one of the toughest ones because aside from the emphasis that the IEA has put on efficient buildings, all the old existing infrastructure has to be retrofitted. And that’s a particular challenge for governments.”
The IEA also wants to expand the energy system to provide electricity to the 785 million people in the world who currently don’t have access. For this to happen, the world will need 4 times the amount of wind and solar energy installations than it had in 2020.
No More Sales Of Fossil-Fuel Vehicles By 2035
The report noted that, by 2035, there will be no more sales of new vehicles with gas or diesel engines (internal combustion engines/ICE). Also, it noted that all of the world’s electricity would be emissions-free by 2040. The IEA believes that this challenge will lead to the creation of almost 14 million jobs by 2030 while investments in energy production skyrocket to $5 trillion. And this would boost the global GDP.
Fatih Birol, the IEA Executive Director, pointed out how this is the best chance at tackling climate change. “The scale and speed of the efforts demanded by this critical and formidable goal — our best chance of tackling climate change and limiting global warming to 1.5°C — make this perhaps the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced,” said Birol.
“The IEA’s pathway to this brighter future brings a historic surge in clean energy investment that creates millions of new jobs and lifts global economic growth. Moving the world on to that pathway requires strong and credible policy actions from governments, underpinned by much greater international co-operation.”
The article also touched upon other worries such as bioenergy and the IEA’s path to net-zero’s goal of an increase of at least 60% in this energy source. You can read the full BBC article here and the IEA’s full report here.
Featured image courtesy of IEA.