A “revolution” in the pace of energy productivity and decarbonisation across buildings, transport and industry will be needed as part of a strategy to halve global emissions by 2040 in line with the Paris climate change agreement.
This is according to the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC), a diverse group of individuals from across the energy and climate communities including investors, incumbent energy companies and other private sector stakeholders including energy-intensive industries and academics from around the world.
In a new report out this week, ETC has argued that governments, investors and businesses must work together to lower global emissions while ensuring economic development and energy access for all.
However, to fall in line with the requirements of the COP21 agreement, they must act now to accelerate clean electrification, decarbonise beyond the power sector and boost energy productivity.
Adair Turner, chair of the ETC and former chair of the UK’s Climate Change Committee (CCC), said: “We are ambitious but realistic. Despite the scale of the challenges facing us, we firmly believe the required transition is technically and economically achievable if immediate action is taken.”
While clean electrification of power generation remains key for the ETC strategy, it adds that a wider set of activities in the transport and buildings sectors will be needed.
Dubbed “hard-to-electrify” sectors and including heavy industry, ETC says further resources will need to be focused on bioenergy, waste heat, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage to fill the gaps left by the transition to renewables and battery storage.
“Governments and companies need to make significant R&D and initial deployment investments to ensure that these technologies become cost effective,” the report states.
It also claims that improvements in energy productivity, whereby energy efficiency is linked with business growth and development, could deliver a third of required emissions reductions by 2040.
However this would demand greatly accelerated energy efficiency progress across the buildings, transport and industry sectors, as well as structural changes in the economy to deliver more economic growth with less energy-intensive goods and services.
ETC argues that each year, energy productivity needs to increase by 3% and the share of energy from zero-carbon sources needs to rise at least one percentage point. Strong public policies will be essential to achieve this and must include “meaningful carbon pricing, phase-out of fossil fuels subsidies, R&D and deployment support for low-carbon technologies, robust standards and regulations, appropriate market design, and public investment in transport and urban infrastructure.”
The group’s claims echo those of the Build Upon coalition which this week said Europe’s built environment must improve its efficiency and emissions performance or climate targets established within the Paris Agreement will not be met.