Achieving zero emissions will not be enough to reach a 1.5°C future. Different regions around the world have different starting points on the road to decarbonization, with varying levels of emissions, technologies and capabilities. Developed regions and sectors must go below zero emissions if the world is to reach the 1.5°C goal. DNV’s new report, Pathway to Net Zero Emissions, outlines a plausible, but challenging, pathway to net-zero emissions, but it will take massive and early action for it to succeed. All regions and sectors will need to take more and faster steps toward the energy transition, but the least-developed countries will need dedicated technology and financial assistance to enable a fast transition.
The report identifies specific sectors—road transport, maritime, aviation, space and water heating, manufacturing, power generation, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and energy efficiency—that are both the largest emitters of carbon but also offer the greatest opportunities to achieve net zero. It maps out the technologies, policies, and investments needed in each sector to meet the Paris agreement goals.
In North America, there is an opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions from 6Gt in 209 to -0.8 Gt by 2050 via a rapid reduction in the use of coal and oil, supplanted by electricity and hydrogen in the energy system. Both the United States and Canada have net-zero GHG targets for 2020, but they will require strong policy levers to achieve them. For example:
- Raising the average carbon price will be reflected as costs for fossil fuels
- Subsidizing the EVs and banning the sale of fossil-fuel powered vehicles from 2030 for passenger vehicles and from 2040 for commercial vehicles
- Better energy efficiency standards for new commercial and residential buildings, partial banning of fossil fuel equipment in buildings, and an accelerated phase-out of fossil-fuel equipment by halving lifetimes for new equipment
- Investments in electrification of heat supply in the manufacturing sector
- Banning fossil fuel power plants from 2040 on
The window is closing to reach 1.5°C — but the pathway to net zero is both technically and politically feasible — and, therefore, its achievement is a realistic possibility if we can harness the best of our efforts.