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IEA, Roadmap To Net Zero

June 2, 2021

By Paul Homewood




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%.




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!

  1. AC Osborn permalink
    June 2, 2021 2:56 pm

    And it will make not one jot of difference to Climate.

    • June 2, 2021 6:28 pm

      Agreed – the Climate will change as it has always done and always will.

  2. Broadlands permalink
    June 2, 2021 3:29 pm

    Take note of Table A.4, CO2 emissions. By 2050 6316 Million tons of CO2 will have been removed to reach zero. Even if that was possible in the next 20 years it represents a trivial amount. 6316 MtCO2 is less than one part-per-million. So, yes it will make no difference to the climate but it will be a very costly experiment for everyone.

  3. HotScot permalink
    June 2, 2021 4:07 pm

    Shot themselves in the foot there……….

  4. Jack Broughton permalink
    June 2, 2021 4:09 pm

    According to this appalling 224 page report, (on page 4) “All the technologies for net-zero already exist”. Many are theoretically possible but few (hydrogen, CCS or batteries notably) are proven at the scale needed. CCUS is their magic bullet that will enable net-zero. This is driven by a CO2 tax rising to $250/t by 2050. on page 51 they forecast that all fossil fuel prices will fall, coal prices halving, yet we will all forgo these excellent fuels.

    Winter cover is to be by having 3.5 TW batteries which will allow 4 hours storage apparently. Of course the price of off-shore wind is to decrease to 30 % present costs.

    Notably, the peer-reviewers listed are all well known troughers. Lots of impressive but unquestionable graphics to support the nonsense that is being preached – a crime against science!

    • Sobaken permalink
      June 2, 2021 8:53 pm

      At least they are acknowledging that batteries can only provide peaking and don’t solve the intermittency/storage problem, so you have to depend on reliable generation like nuclear, hydro, and fuelled plants (biomass, CCS, and hydrogen). Calling CCS and electrolysis “proven technologies” is more than a little bit ambitious, but compared to 100% wind and solar nonsense produced by hardline greens, IEA’s report seems at least somewhat sensible. I mean, China and Russia introducing $200/ton carbon taxes is mad, but not as mad as the world running fully on sunshines and breezes. And it’s not like they even believe that their NZE scenario is likely to happen, the baseline most probable scenario is STEPS, which doesn’t see that much technological change.

  5. Mad Mike permalink
    June 2, 2021 4:16 pm

    I got through about half of the original article in quiet disbelief that an editor would give this report any credence much less copy space. I didn’t get to the tables and charts but they only make it more fanciful. The figures, both interns of cash and growth of renewables, are getting wilder and wilder.

    On another point, sorry to be off topic, I came across this report on some research in to the transference of CO2 and other gases to water and how temperature is the key factor; above 26C the gases are emitted from water and below 26C and the gases are absorbed by water. This could explain why the finding that CO2 levels have been seen to rise following rises in global temperature periods through the ages. I think I’ve got that right although I’m no academic.

    • June 3, 2021 10:34 am

      I would query the 26C as it is reckoned outgassing co2 comes from tropical water which is defined as above 20C.

      So that includes many places during the summer including lakes. It would very rarely include Northern Europe but would certainly include the Med.

      The oceans around us are gulping in Co2 not expelling it (currently a very chilly 13C) so perhaps we need to sell our virtue by demanding money for storing Co2 in a similar fashion to those promoting the Amazon rain forest.

      • Mad Mike permalink
        June 3, 2021 12:06 pm

        I’m not in a position to debate whether 26C is accurate or not but the article shows that there is a continuous cycle of absorption and release of CO2, along with the gases, by rain and the oceans and that is governed by temperature. It puts a lie to assertion that the CO2 level in the atmosphere is the result of man’s activities as this cycle deals with multiple times the amounts of CO2 due to emissions all the time and this cycle is affected by global falls and rises of temperature. It reverses the picture that Alarmists put forward that CO2 causes global warming. The findings account for other data that suggests that CO2 rises follow warming not the other way round.

        It’s bit lengthy but you can get the message by skipping to last few paragraphs.

  6. June 2, 2021 5:21 pm

    Government lockdowns are coming your way to enforce Net Zero compliance – from page 173 of the IEA report:

    “Behavioural changes play an important part in reducing energy demand and emissions in the NZE, especially in sectors where technical options for cutting emissions are limited in 2050. While it is citizens and companies that modify their behaviour, the changes are mostly enabled by the policies and investments made by governments, and in some instances, they are required by laws or regulations. The Covid‐19 pandemic has increased general awareness of the potential effectiveness of behavioural changes, such as mask‐wearing, and working and schooling at home. The crisis demonstrated that people can make behavioural changes at significant speed and scale if they understand the changes to be justified, and that it is necessary for governments to explain convincingly and to provide clear guidance about what changes are needed and why they are needed. ”

    You will obey. You will be made to obey.

    • Mack permalink
      June 2, 2021 6:23 pm

      Indeed, Gummer and the climate Pharisees on the CCC have recently been hitting at ‘enforcing compliance’. One of the first casualties of such a policy will be the shutting down of sites such as this for ‘spreading misinformation’ to ensure that all media outlets are ‘on message’. It’s a slippery slope which begins with ‘burning books’ and soon leads to the rounding up recalcitrants and heretics. Dangerous times.

      • Mad Mike permalink
        June 2, 2021 7:27 pm

        We might have to go and live in China or Russia to escape a repressive regime.

    • Sobaken permalink
      June 2, 2021 8:42 pm

      I have a feeling that the authors of the report probably aren’t going to change their own behaviour in any way, and will still fly across the world to the next big climate conference to show their graphs on large screens in air conditioned halls.

    • Matt Dalby permalink
      June 8, 2021 1:12 am

      The report states that total energy usage in 2050 will be lower than 2019. With a lot of countries, e.g. India rapidly increasing their energy use plus most countries in Africa wanting to do the same how does the IEA expect total energy use to fall, unless it’s severely rationed in woke places such as Europe and the U.S. Since environment groups have been saying for at least 20 years that people should reduce their energy use, to little effect, the only way this could happen is through compulsion or “nudge tactics” to use the latest term, i.e. some form of lockdown or rationing.
      The reduction in global energy use is the scariest part of the report as it has the widest reaching implications for everyone.

  7. Penda100 permalink
    June 2, 2021 6:26 pm

    Meanwhile in the real world, according to today’s Telegraph “Despite international pledges to drastically cut carbon emissions, 20GW of coal-fired power plants were approved for investment last year, up from around 18GW in 2019. China alone approved 13GW of coal-fired plants, a 45pc increase on 2019 levels.” The Chinese are far too clever to follow the stupidity of the West.

  8. June 2, 2021 6:44 pm

    China could cut some ’emissions’ by not producing solar panels and wind turbines for export, thus reducing its energy-hungry steel-making 😎.

  9. Douglas Brodie permalink
    June 2, 2021 10:12 pm

    To agree with Paul’s conclusion, as I’ve said in two emails to politicians:

    The climate change zealots who hang on every pronouncement of the UN IPCC high priests of climate change have not yet realised that their man-made global warming crusade was condemned to irrelevance in 2018 when it called for mind-bogglingly infeasible Net Zero global emissions cuts within impossible timescales. The complicit mainstream media and establishment chattering classes have simply ignored the show-stopping implications of these targets.

    They have no answer because they are stuck on a climate change treadmill they can’t get off, hoist on the petard of their own climate pseudo-science, painted into a corner by their own untenable climate commitments, shackled to climate and energy policies which can only end very badly for all of us, they hope only after they themselves have moved on.

  10. dennisambler permalink
    June 3, 2021 8:04 am

    It turns out that the IEA plan was requested by the UK government as preparation for COP26

    “The International Energy Agency today announced that it will produce the world’s first comprehensive roadmap for the energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 as it further strengthens its leadership role in global clean energy transitions.”

    “In line with an official request by the COP26 Presidency, the IEA is developing a new special report providing the first comprehensive energy-sector pathway towards global net-zero emissions by 2050. This report assesses the policy requirements, the deployment and innovation needs, the necessary investments, the economic benefits and the wider implications for the world”.

    The new special report, The World’s Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050, will set out in detail what is needed from governments, companies, investors and citizens to fully decarbonise the energy sector and put emissions on a path in line with a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is part of a series of new IEA projects to support efforts to reach global energy and climate goals.”

    It had a publishing date before they even started writing it:

    “This new roadmap will be released on 18 May and build momentum ahead of the COP26 Summit in Glasgow in November, under the presidency of the United Kingdom.

    COP26 President, UK’s Alok Sharma said: “The IEA’s plan to produce a pathway to net zero global emissions by 2050 is another important step for climate action. This will make clear the actions countries must take individually and collectively to meet that goal.”

    IEA Chief Fatih Birol chairs the World Economic Forum’s (Davos) Energy Advisory Board and serves on the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Sustainable Energy for All.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      June 3, 2021 10:02 am

      IEA Chief Fatih Birol chairs the World Economic Forum’s (Davos) Energy Advisory Board and serves on the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Sustainable Energy for All.

      – and he has never stood for a democratic office, ever.

      • June 3, 2021 10:54 am

        Mind you, we don’t have a democratic voice as there is no political party pushing back against this madness.

  11. Coeur de Lion permalink
    June 3, 2021 10:09 am

    Heard a ridiculous fellow on the BBC Today programme tell the fawning journo that hydrogen would be produced by ‘green electrolysis’. Windmills of course. The fawning hack did not press for numbers or remark that April saw twelve consecutive days with under (sometimes way under) 4% of demand from Boris’s bloodstained windmills. I thought we were going to charge our EVs with wind? And light our streets? And. And and

  12. Coeur de Lion permalink
    June 3, 2021 10:13 am

    Everybody please press the GWPF to campaign for COVID Emergency podium briefings by the Climate Change Committee on the Climate Emergency, science, costs, benefits

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