Rapid Renewable Uptake, Viable Carbon Capture Tech Pathways to 1.5°C Goal

The reports call for increased renewable installations and carbon capture


The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report that limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels requires a rapid and profound transformation of the global energy system and significant mitigation actions in other sectors, such as land use and industry.

The report identifies four key pillars that are vital to delivering a credible pathway to 1.5 °C:

The first pillar highlighted the need for the energy sector, which accounts for about three-quarters of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, to reduce its emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2020, requiring a significant shift from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources and electrification.

Further, it called for rapid phasing out of coal-fired power plants, a cessation of new oil and gas exploration and development, and a massive increase in energy efficiency and conservation measures.

The second pillar addresses the land-use sector, which is responsible for about a quarter of global GHG emissions. The report stresses the importance of halting deforestation by 2030 and reversing it after that, as forests are essential carbon sinks that can help remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

The report also urged more sustainable agricultural practices, such as reducing livestock fertilizer use and methane emissions and enhancing soil carbon sequestration.

The third pillar targeted non-CO2 GHGs, such as methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and black carbon, which have a much higher global warming potential than CO2 but a shorter atmospheric lifetime.

The report estimated that reducing these emissions by 50% by 2030 compared to 2020 could lower peak warming by up to 0.4 °C.

It recommended capturing methane leaks from oil and gas operations, banning venting and flaring, phasing out HFCs in refrigeration and air conditioning, and implementing stricter vehicle emissions and waste management standards .

The fourth pillar involves carbon management technologies, such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), direct air capture (DAC), and enhanced weathering.

These technologies can help remove CO2 from the atmosphere or prevent it from being emitted in the first place. The report acknowledged that these technologies are still in the early stages of development and face many technical, economic, and social challenges.

However, the report argued that they are indispensable for achieving net-zero emissions and harmful emissions by mid-century. It called for a tenfold increase in public spending on research, development, and demonstration of these technologies by 2030.

CCUS is critical for the energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In 2022, around 44 million tons of CO2 were captured globally. To align with net-zero emissions by 2050, global CO2 capture in the energy sector needs to increase to 1.2 Gt by 2030.

According to IEA, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose by under 1% during 2022, which is lower than initially expected. Last October, the IEA had forecast that global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion would grow by just under 1% this year as the substantial expansion of renewables and electric vehicles prevent a sharper rise.