IEA lists seven principles to achieve net zero

6 April 2021

Energy and climate leaders from more than 40 countries took part in the IEA-COP26 Net Zero Summit on 31 March to discuss how to work together to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Net Zero Summit, co-hosted by IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol and COP26 President Alok Sharma, brought together representatives of energy and climate ministries as well as participants from private companies, government institutions and NGOs.

The Summit was in preparation for COP26 in Glasgow in November. It brought together representatives of countries covering more than 80% of global GDP, population and emissions. Key participants included Zhang Jianhua, China’s Minister of Energy; Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission; Raj Kumar Singh, India’s Minister of Power, New and Renewable Energy; and John Kerry, US Presidential Special Envoy for Climate; Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy; and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.

COP26 President Alok Sharma said, “It is time for the world to move from a decade of climate change deliberation to a decade of delivery. The UK strongly encourages countries to endorse the IEA’s seven principles for achieving net zero.” He added that the Summit clearly showed willingness from governments, civil society and businesses to work together to make this happen and keep the 1.5 degree target within reach.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said , while there was broad agreement on the gravity of the climate crisis and need for immediate action, there was also a need for greater international collaboration “to drive the rapid global deployment of clean technologies across all the key sectors of the economy”. He stressed that no country can do this alone and that “the world’s major economies have to work much more effectively and closely together”.

Many IEA member governments supported the Seven Key Principles presented by the IEA at the Summit to guide the implementation of net zero commitments. Birol said he expected more support to be forthcoming.

The seven principles are:

  • Sustainable recoveries can provide a once-in-a-generation down-payment toward net zero;
  • Clear, ambitious and implementable net-zero-aligned roadmaps to 2030 and beyond are critical;
  • Transitions will go faster when learning is shared;
  • Net-zero sectors and innovation are essential to achieve global net zero;
  • Mobilising, tracking and benchmarking public and private investment can be the fuel to achieve net zero;
  • People-centred transitions are morally required and politically necessary; and,
  • Net-zero energy systems also need to be sustainable, secure, affordable and resilient.

The principles cover essential areas such as the need for sustainable recoveries from the Covid-19 crisis, the critical importance of implementable emissions reduction roadmaps for the current decade, and the development of stronger mechanisms for international coordination to accelerate innovation and deployment in each major emitting sector of the global economy. They also address technology collaboration, best-practice sharing, investment tracking, ensuring people-centred transitions, and integrating energy security and affordability into net zero plans.

To support stronger government actions, the IEA on 18 May will publish the first comprehensive roadmap for the global energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, which was requested by the COP26 Presidency as a key input. It will set out what is needed from governments, companies, investors and citizens to put global emissions on a path in line with a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees. The roadmap will help decision makers to prioritise urgent action in the lead-up to Glasgow.

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