Latest IPCC climate report calls for reaching net zero emissions earlier than 2050

Wood Mackenzie Asia Pacific Head of Markets and Transitions Prakash Sharma responds to the recently released IPCC report. 

Sharma said: «While the IPCC report is a stark reminder for world economies to raise climate ambition and take action to cut emissions rapidly, the ground reality is quite different.  

«The Covid-19 pandemic reduced energy-related annual CO2 emissions by 1.8 Bt in 2020. But this was a temporary phenomenon. As the world recovers from the effects of Covid-19, energy demand is already rising quickly and set to reach new highs. However, there is not enough renewable capacity to meet energy demand growth. As a result, emissions are going to rise in the near-term, not fall.  

«Achieving the goal of net zero needs a sustained, collaborative, global effort by society to reduce emissions by 1.2 Bt every year on average for the next three decades. While many countries have set net zero 2050 targets, no major economy is on track to meet the 45% reduction in annual emissions needed by 2030.     

«The EU, UK, US and Japan will have to make substantial gains to meet their 2030 target as lmited progress has been made in hard-to-abate sectors. China currently emits 35% of global emissions and has only committed to peaking its emissions by 2030. Hence, China’s performance is most crucial in fulfilling global climate goals, as the IPCC report highlighted.     

«In Wood Mackenzie’s Accelerated Energy Transition (AET) 1.5-degree scenario, we have mapped where emissions reduction could come from. In our assessment, by 2050 nearly 44% of emissions reduction come from electrification and efficiency gains, 33% from fuel switching and feedstock change, and 23% from carbon removal technologies (CCUS, direct air capture, nature-based solutions).  

«One area of the IPCC report that is particularly concerning is the weakening of ocean and land-based carbon sinks. These natural systems have historically helped balance the carbon cycle. Their deteriorating effectiveness is likely a result of increased CO2 concentration in the atmosphere caused by several decades of fossil fuel consumption.  

«Overall, the world is still losing more forests than it is adding. The situation is particularly serious in Africa and South America, and we expect these regions would be prime targets for quick wins by protecting existing forests and planting new ones if policy makers in those countries can be persuaded.»