IEA grapples with impossible trade-offs in landmark ‘net zero’ roadmap
Without behavioural change, unproven technology must bridge the gap between rampant demand and a collapse in fossil fuels
The International Energy Agency has entered uncharted territory by releasing its first 1.5C Paris-aligned pathway. The Net Zero Emissions (NZE) scenario seeks to strike an impossible balance between political expediency, technological innovation and market realities. Its central call for no new fossil investment marks a significant departure from all previous IEA scenarios, which are highly influential in the formation of energy policies around the world.
The NZE envisages no investment in new oil and gas fields and new coal mines or mine extensions beyond those already under construction. Once these projects start production, “all upstream oil and gas investment is spent on maintaining production at existing fields”.
This is a huge departure for the IEA, which until recently was advocating for heavy increases in upstream investment.
In the NZE, unabated coal demand declines by 90% to just 1% of total energy use in 2050. Gas demand declines by 55% to 1,75…