The report, which is titled Net Zero by 2050, states that in order to achieve a carbon neutral world by that year producers will need to immediately stop any new fossil fuel production. This is only one of 400 “milestones” along the road to 2050, and its implausibility only underscores the difficulties of combining a rational, science-based response to the danger of climate change with the maintenance of global capitalism, driven by private profits and the interests of rival nation-states.
The report, issued May 17, is billed as “the world’s first comprehensive study of how to transition to a net zero energy system by 2050.” It promises to do so “while ensuring stable and affordable energy supplies, providing universal energy access, and enabling robust economic growth,” according to its press release.
Countries will need to increase solar and wind production by roughly 400 percent more than the current rate. This would occur with a phasing out of coal and gas plants, in favor of solar and nuclear plants, as well as the retrofitting of coal and gas plants with carbon capture devices, where the carbon will later be injected underground. According to the special report, this transition must finalize before 2040. As it stands, roughly 80 percent of the world’s energy grids are powered by fossil fuels.
By 2040, a significant amount of air travel would have to be done with renewable fuels like hydrogen. By 2030, the majority of cars sold would need to be electric. By 2035 most vehicles involved in the transportation of goods would also need to make this transition.
The pathways described by the IEA also include enabling access to clean electricity and cooking to everyone in the world and making the world’s electric grid completely carbon neutral by 2040. “The sheer magnitude of changes needed to get to net zero emissions by 2050 is still not fully understood by many governments and investors,” stated IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
The agency, which functions as an advisor for numerous national governments, stated: “[c]limate pledges by governments to date—even if fully achieved—would fall well short of what is required” to achieve these goals. The report calls for “a historic surge in clean energy investment that creates millions of new jobs and lifts global economic growth.” The agency’s underlying assumption is that this can be done under capitalism.
The pathways and benchmarks provided by the IEA are based upon goals set by the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, a nonbinding pact which most leading world governments have signed onto. In addition to being unenforceable, the Paris Accord presumes that rival capitalist…
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