Energy sector is the backbone of our economic activities and at the same time is the source of around three‐quarters of greenhouse gas emissions today. Therefore, energy sector holds the key to averting the worst effects of climate change. Unless there is a complete transformation of how we produce, transport and consume energy, our ambition of reducing global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net zero by 2050 will only remain in paper. A huge amount of work is needed to turn today’s impressive ambitions into reality, especially given the range of different situations among countries and their differing capacities to make the necessary changes.
Many countries have committed to abide by the milestone targets to be achieved to reach the goal of net zero emissions by 2050 and in fact the number of such countries is growing day by day and now cover almost 70% of the global emissions of CO2. Though this in itself is a major step forward, most of these promises are not followed by necessary policy initiatives in the respective member countries. Remember, any delay in acting to reverse the carbon emission trend will put net zero by 2050 out of reach. Concerted and united action by all the nations can definitely bring down carbon emissions to targeted level by 2050. We already have an example of 2020 when global emissions fell because of the Covid‐19 crisis but are already rebounding strongly as economies recover.
There is urgent need to strengthen the policies to speed the deployment of clean and efficient energy technologies. Mandates and standards are vital to drive consumer spending and industry investment into the most efficient technologies. Targets and competitive auctions can enable wind and solar to accelerate the electricity sector transition. We need to have policies that limit or provide disincentives for the use of certain fuels and technologies, such as unabated coal‐fired power stations, gas boilers and conventional internal combustion engine vehicles. Government must lead the planning and incentivising of the massive infrastructure investment, including in smart transmission and distribution grids.
Its true that transition won’t be smooth and the path will be full of obstacles. The changes will affect multiple aspects of people’s lives – from transport, heating and cooking to urban planning and jobs. Behavioural changes, particularly in advanced economies – such as replacing car trips with walking, cycling or public transport, or foregoing a long‐haul flight may also be required. In other words, challenge is the real thing and its not just the government’s job to achieve the target but involvement of every human being on the planet is required for the success of the net zero by 2050.