Achievable pathways to low-carbon energy systems
Governments, investors and businesses must seize the opportunity to halve global carbon emissions by 2040 while ensuring economic development and energy access for all, but they must act now to accelerate clean electrification, decarbonization beyond power and energy productivity improvement, says the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC). The ETC launched its “Better energy, Greater prosperity” report which argues that it is technically and economically feasible to grow economies and provide affordable, reliable, clean energy for all while meeting the Paris objective of limiting global warming to well below 2°C.
To put the world on a well below 2˚C pathway, we must decarbonize power generation and extend electrification to a wider set of activities in the transport and buildings sectors. Clean electrification alone could deliver half of the carbon emissions reductions required to reach 20 gigatonnes (Gt) of emissions by 2040. But we must also decarbonize all the activities which cannot be cost-effectively electrified – such as aviation, shipping, and heavy industries like steel, cement or chemicals – and achieve a revolution in energy productivity. On both of these dimensions, progress is far too slow. To accelerate improvement requires stronger public policies and large-scale public and private investment, urges the ETC. The transition to low-carbon energy systems would deliver important social benefits – with for instance dramatically improved air quality leading to longer and healthier lives – and economic opportunities related to the development of technologies and innovative business models, says the report.