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The IEA World Energy Outlook 2021 – Putting the energy sector at the heart of climate solution

Published on 20 October 2021

The IEA’s flagship publication is always worth a read, and – here is Nadine Robinson, IMCA’s Technical Adviser for Environmental Sustainability’s summary.  

Coined by IEA as a guidebook for COP26, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2021 highlights the energy sector’s responsibility for nearly three-quarters of emissions causing climate change. Despite positive rapid growth in renewable energy sources in 2020, 2021 has seen the second largest annual increase in CO2 emissions in history. The IEA’s flagship publication explores key scenarios to garner insights (not predictions) of the future. It details three key scenarios, the first being the Net Zero by 2050 Scenario (NZE) where the global energy sector achieves net zero by 2050; the second Announced Pledge Scenario (APS) where it is assumed governments’ climate commitments (e.g., NDCs and net zero targets) are fully met on time; and the third Stated Pledge Scenario (STEPS) where sector-by-sector polices in place and under development are assessed. WEO 2021 also refers to the Sustainable Development Scenario – where SDGs on universal access to energy and air quality improvements are met, and global net zero emissions are achieved by 2070 or sooner. The publication identifies four key areas for action:

  1. clean electrification;
  2. energy efficiency; 
  3. emissions reduction from fossil fuel operations;
  4. and clean energy innovation. 

Huge opportunities are afforded by the energy transition, and it calls for the energy sector to be at the heart of the solution to climate change.  If the world gets on track for net zero emissions by 2050, then the cumulative market opportunity for manufacturers of wind turbines, solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, electrolysers, and fuel cells amounts to USD 27 trillion. These five elements alone in 2050 would be larger than today’s oil industry and its associated revenues. 

IMCA Contact

Nadine Robinson
Technical Adviser – Environmental Sustainability