Apr 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Emissions modeling underscores need for sweeping energy transformations

Change in energy demand by scenario, 2019-2030
Data: IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

International Energy Agency modeling underscores the kind of sweeping energy transformations needed in the relatively near future to meet the Paris Agreement's temperature goals.

The big picture: The chart above via IEA's World Energy Outlook last October shows changes in demand for various fuel sources in three IEA scenarios.

  • The first shows its estimates under nations' current and announced policies at the time, which bring warming well in excess of the targets.
  • The second two are pathways for keeping the very ambitious 1.5 °C target in sight to varying degrees by reaching net-zero emissions in 3-5 decades (but it's complicated and you can read more about them here).

Why it matters: Keeping the Paris targets in sight requires huge changes this decade. The chart shows greatly accelerated renewables deployment, a steep drop in coal use and other big shifts.

  • IEA's hardly alone in the long-term scenario business and any multidecade look-ahead is stuffed with uncertainties.
  • But what's common among scenarios for holding warming significantly in check is a rapid shift away from fossil fuels.

Go deeper: World must sharply cut emissions by 2030 to meet Paris climate goals

Go deeper