By Paul Homewood

https://www.iea.org/reports/net-zero-by-2050

The IEA’s roadmap to Net Zero made news last month. The BBC’s main headline concerned the banning of gas boilers by 2025 and and end to new fossil fuel exploration. The latter has already been rejected , even by the UK and US, both of which have pointed out that oil and gas will still be needed for many years to come.

And, as it may have occurred to you, the contribution from emission reductions by gas boilers in a few western countries will be tiny.

Nobody however seems to have looked at the IEA report in detail, and examined its ramifications.

There is much talk about electric cars and renewable investment, but the stark reality is shown in the table below:

By 2030, solar and wind energy output will rise fivefold. By 2050, it will be supplying 36% of the world’s energy, and 46% of its electricity.

By 2040, current fossil fuel consumption must be cut by two thirds. This will result in a cut in CO2 emissions of 82%.

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The IEA do not explain how intermittent wind and solar can supply such a large proportion of energy, but evidently realise that we will still need to burn huge amounts of biomass to provide reliable power.

Curiously however there is no attempt by the IEA to analyse any of this by country. Currently Asia consumes more fossil fuel energy than the US and Europe combined. It is plain then that the likes of China, India and the rest of Asia will quickly have to start making the same exit from fossil fuels as we in the West are planning; something they have shown no inclination to do.

BP Energy Review

And all of this will naturally cost a lot of money. Global investment in low carbon energy will more than double to $5 trillion a year by 2030; a rise of 2% of GDP, which in UK terms means about £50 billion a year.

But percentages of GDP don’t tell the whole story, because some countries are richer than others. GDP per capita in the UK is $39000, but in China is only $8000, so the cost of decarbonisation will be much greater in the latter in terms of GDP.

Put another way, China’s GDP is five times the UK’s, but its emissions are twenty five times as great. Chinese emissions are more than a quarter of global ones; this would suggest that China will need to spend at least $1 trillion a year on decarbonisation, when its annual GDP is only $14 trillion.

Clearly this is not going to happen.

Finally, a dose of reality. The IEA have calculated the “Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS)”:

In other words, it reflect what countries have already pledged to do, both at Paris and since.

And the outcome?

Emissions will be just as high in thirty years time as they are now!

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June 2, 2021