Energy sector can phase out CO2 by 2060

The global energy sector can reduce its CO2 emissions by 70 per cent by 2050 and completely phase out fossil fuels by 2060, a new study from the International Renewable Energy Agency shows. The investments required would be a driver of growth.

Phasing out fossil fuels is not only possible, it is also an economic driver. This is one of the main findings of a new study from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) launched on Monday at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue.

According to the study, the global energy sector can reduce its CO2 emissions by 70 per cent by 2050, bringing them down from today’s 32 gigatonnes (Gt) per year to 9.5 Gt, according to an IRENA statement on the study’s launch.

Global energy-related CO2 emissions could be completed phased out by 2060 by increasing the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency. While renewable energy now accounts for 16 per cent of primary energy supply, this figure could be increased to 65 per cent by 2050.

IRENA estimates that an additional USD 29 trillion in investments by 2050 is needed to decarbonise the energy sector. While this figure may sound high, it is only 0.4 per cent of global GDP. What’s more, such investments would stimulate economic growth and could boost global GDP by 0.8 per cent in 2050, generate new jobs and reduce the environmental and health risks resulting from the use of fossil fuels, such as air pollution.

“The decarbonisation can fuel sustainable economic growth and create more new jobs in renewables,” said IRENA director general Adnan Z. Amin.

In the opinion of IRENA, the energy transition also needs to go beyond the power sector into all end-use sectors. For instance, the buildings, industry and transport sectors all need more bioenergy, solar heating and electricity from renewable resources. Liquid biofuel production needs to grow ten-fold, while USD 2 billion energy-efficient buildings will need to be built new ore renovated.

The study also calls for stronger price signals and carbon pricing to help provide a level playing field.

 

Image credit: jervert, flickr/Creative Commons

 

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