IEA: Carbon Emissions Will Fall 60% Short of Their 2050 Target

Carbon emissions ‘will drop just 40% by 2050 with countries’ current pledges’.

  • 70% of the $4tn investment required to reach net zero must flow into emerging markets
    70% of the $4tn investment required to reach net zero must flow into emerging markets

Current plans to cut global carbon emissions will fall 60% short of their 2050 net-zero target, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), urging leaders to use the upcoming Cop26 climate conference to send an “unmistakable signal” with concrete policy plans.

In its annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA predicted that carbon emissions would decrease by just 40% by the middle of the century if countries stick to their current climate pledges.

Net-zero target; the ultimate goal

The organization said the difference between current plans and the necessary change to reach the net zero target was severe, requiring up to $4tn in investment over the next decade alone to bridge the divide.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told The Guardian that major economies recovering from Covid-19 were already missing the opportunity to spur investment in clean energy.

 “We are witnessing an unsustainable recovery from the pandemic,” he said, citing sections of the report that show coal use growing strongly, contributing to the second-largest increase in CO2 emissions in history.

“[They should say] we are determined, if you invest in old energy sources, dirty energy sources, you are risking to lose your money. If you invest in clean energy, you’ll make handsome profits,” he said. 

Emerging markets and developing economies much needed

The IEA’s Outlook estimates that 70% of the $4tn investment required to reach net zero must flow into emerging markets and developing economies.

The warning comes as the UK and Europe wrestle with sky-high gas prices that threaten to increase winter costs for consumers, shut down factories and disrupt under-pressure supply chains for food and retail.

The crisis highlighted the danger of relying on fossil fuels that are subject to price volatility, but also the fact that the region still relies heavily on gas, with renewables unable to meet energy needs yet. 

However, it also pointed to the potential economic opportunities of net zero. It said existing pledges to reduce emissions would create 13m jobs but that stepping up the measures to meet the target would double that figure.