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Publication - Net Zero by 2050 A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector

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Net Zero by 2050 A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector
Published in
May 2021
There has been a rapid increase over the last year in the number of governments pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero. Net-zero pledges to date cover around 70% of global GDP and CO2 emissions. However, fewer than a quarter of announced net-zero pledges are fixed in domestic legislation and few are yet underpinned by specific measures or policies to deliver them in full and on time.

The Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS) takes account only of specific policies that are in place or have been announced by governments. Annual energy‐related and industrial process CO2 emissions rise from 34 Gt in 2020 to 36 Gt in 2030 and remain around this level until 2050. If emissions continue on this trajectory, with similar changes in non‐energy‐related GHG emissions, this would lead to a temperature rise of around 2.7 °C by 2100 (with a 50% probability). Renewables provide almost 55% of global electricity generation in 2050 (up from 29% in 2020), but clean energy transitions lag in other sectors. Global coal use falls by 15% between 2020 and 2050; oil use in 2050 is 15% higher than in 2020, and natural gas use is almost 50% higher.  The Announced Pledges Case (APC) assumes that all announced national net-zero pledges are achieved in full and on time, whether or not they are currently underpinned by specific policies. Global energy‐related and industrial process CO2 emissions fall to 30 Gt in 2030 and 22 Gt in 2050. Extending this trajectory, with similar action on non‐energy‐related GHG emissions, would lead to a temperature rise in 2100 of around 2.1 °C (with a 50% probability). Global electricity generation nearly doubles to exceed 50 000 TWh in 2050. The share of renewables in electricity generation rises to nearly 70% in 2050. Oil demand does not return to its 2019 peak and falls about 10% from 2020 to 80 mb/d in 2050. Coal use drops by 50% to 2 600 Mtce in 2050, while natural gas use expands by 10% to 4 350 bcm in 2025 and remains about that level to 2050.  Efficiency, electrification and the replacement of coal by low‐emissions sources in electricity generation play a central role in achieving net zero goals in the APC, especially over the period to 2030. The relative contributions of nuclear, hydrogen, bioenergy and CCUS vary across countries, depending on their circumstances. The divergence in trends between the APC and the STEPS shows the difference that current net zero pledges could make, while underlining at the same time the need for concrete policies and short‐term plans that are consistent with long‐term net zero pledges. However, the APC also starkly highlights that existing net zero pledges, even if delivered in full, fall well short of what is necessary to reach global net‐zero

emissions by 2050.