Not only does this document delineate the gargantuan quantities of energy currently used by humans on Earth, mainly from the fossil fuels, but the enormity of change necessary to bring their emissions to net zero by 2050. [It is thought this would give a 50:50 chance of limiting the rise in global average temperature to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100].
Although NZE is a guide, not a mandate, it fully identifies the steepness of the terrain that must be negotiated, with no new oil or gas fields to be approved, as of 2021. Instead, oil and gas producers would concentrate on output from existing fields, and in reducing any associated emissions. New coal mines and additional unabated coal fired power plants are also ruled out.
Given that various governments, including that of the UK, who commissioned the report, are set to endorse various new fossil fuel projects, and oil companies continue to invest in new production, this particular criterion may prove difficult to meet.
The publication of the roadmap is timed in anticipation of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Climate Change Framework Convention in Glasgow in November, whose high-level discussions it aims to inform. Even if the climate pledges made to date by the world’s governments were entirely fulfilled, the resulting reduction in global energy-related CO2 emissions would be insufficient to bring them to net zero by 2050; hence, more drastic and urgent action is essential.
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