Even more worryingly, the scenarios laid out in the report show that the pledges made fall far short of the emissions cuts needed to limit warming to 1.5°C – after which the worst effects of climate change will emerge.
Not surprisingly, transportation is a focal point of the report, as it has the highest levels of dependence on fossil fuels and accounts for 37% of CO2 emissions from end-use sectors.
To highlight the need for more ambitious action by governments, the IEA has developed two scenarios regarding the sector’s impact on climate change:
He announced the Pledges to the Scenario (APS), which assumes that all climate commitments made by governments around the world will be met in full and on time.
The Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (NZE) scenario defines a narrow but viable plan for the global energy sector to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
The IEA estimates that by 2030, transport emissions will be about 2.5 gigatonnes higher in APS than in the NZE scenario, with road transport accounting for nearly three-quarters of the ambition gap between the two scenarios.
There are two reasons:
First, the APS scenario will see increased demand for conventional auto sales in developing economies due to a lack of related commitments.
As a result, the demand for transport capacity is expected to increase by 24% in 2030 compared to 2020, while in New Zealand it is expected to remain at the same levels.
The second major reason is the slower electrification rate of APS coupled with less diffusion of bioenergy and hydrogen-based fuels.
In this scenario, more than 89% of transportation consumption by 2030 would still depend on petroleum products, and nearly 5% on electricity, however, in New Zealand, oil products fell to 75% and electricity rose by 2%.
The report calls on governments around the world to take three steps in order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050:
1 – Driving energy efficiency and changing behavior to reduce energy demand.
2 – Accelerate the electrification of road and rail transport through supportive policies and infrastructure development.
3- Accelerate innovation and infrastructure investment to enable decarbonization of heavy trucks, aviation and shipping after 2030.
Why do we need to bridge the gap?
Even if the pledged climate commitments are fully met, we’re talking about a 40% reduction in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
This is undoubtedly a significant improvement, but the average global temperature will continue to rise by 2.1°C above pre-industrial levels in the year 2100.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Global Warming Report, global warming above 2°C will have the following devastating consequences:
1. An additional 61 million urban people on Earth will be exposed to severe drought.
2. It is projected that between 184 and 270 million people will experience water scarcity in 2050.
3- About 37% of the Earth’s population will be exposed to severe heat waves at least once every five years.
4 – More land areas on Earth will be affected by intense precipitation, floods and tropical cyclones.
The net-zero emissions 2050 scenario targets a 1.5-degree path, which is not a panacea, but could somewhat limit severe environmental impacts.
Given the damage we’ve done to the planet, that’s the least we can do.
For this reason, the IEA is calling on governments to send an “unmistakable signal of clean energy and action ambition” at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be held in November in Glasgow.