The Net Zero Roadmap: a Guideline to Achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050 in the Energy Sector

A look at the four key actions the energy sector needs to implement to achieve net zero emissions.
The Net Zero Roadmap: a Guideline to Achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050 in the Energy Sector
Publ. date 2 Nov 2023
To avoid worst consequences from climate change, it is fundamental to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 °C compared to pre-industrial level and therefore changes must take place immediately. In a landscape where net zero commitments are not enough to reach zero emissions by 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published its second Net Zero Roadmap report for the energy sector to address the urgency.

In today’s context, characterized by the need of huge efforts to limit global temperature increase, the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Roadmap is a useful tool for companies and countries seeking guidelines to design their path to emissions reduction: it provides a detailed overview of what needs to happen in the global energy sector in the following years to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.

The IEA published in September 2023 the second version of its Net Zero Roadmap. The reasons for updating its first report are connected to the changes happened in the past two years, such as the geopolitical conflicts and the Covid crisis which negatively affected the global track of emission reduction, and the rapid development in clean energy technology.

According to the IEA, the path to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 is getting tighter, but it is still possible to achieve by the energy sector. This will require efforts from policy makers, countries, and companies. The download of the article presents three actions that companies can undertake to boost their sustainability performance.

The pathway described in the Net Zero Roadmap highlights four key actions that the energy sector can implement using already available technologies and mitigation options and that could cut 80% of emissions by 2030.

• Increase renewables capacity: Threefold the share of electricity generated from renewable sources will be the biggest contributors to reduce CO2 by 2030. Renewable sources such as solar PV and wind are broadly available, well developed and understood and in many cases deployable and cost effective. In the pathway drawn by the IEA, electricity generated from these two sources will increase from 30% in 2022 to 60% in 2030. Other sources of renewable energy will include hydropower, bioenergy and geothermal. Even if developed countries and China are on track to achieve their contribution to this goal, important progress under the regulation and support perspective will need to be made to allow emerging markets and developing countries to achieve their target.

• Improve energy intensity: Double the annual rate of energy intensity – the amount of energy needed to produce a dollar of economic output – by 2030 will contribute to save energy, reduce emissions, and increase affordability. According to the Net Zero Roadmap, the following actions can help to achieve this goal: switch to more efficient fuels in transportation – electric vehicles, power generation – heat pumps, and cooking – clean cooking fuels; boost the efficiency of household appliances; behavioural changes taken by consumers such as conscious setting of temperature in building, switch to public transport or less pollutant transportation.

• Boost electrification: Electrification of the energy systems can contribute up to one fifth of the emissions reduction needed by 2030. Technologies like electric vehicles and heat pumps will be important contributor to electrification of sectors such as transportation and buildings.

• Reduce methane emissions: Cut methane emissions in the short term is fundamental to reach the 1.5°C limit increase in temperature: while methane emissions have a strong warming potential, they remain in the atmosphere for a shorter time compared to CO2. Moreover, methane accounted for around 30% of the increase in average global temperature since the Industrial Revolution. The energy sector, after agriculture, is responsible for the highest methane emissions (energy accounting for 40%) and it is the sector with the highest potential for methane emissions reduction in the short term.

CEZ Group, a Czech Republic energy provider is a great example for its commitment to implement an ambitious strategy to generate power with emissions-free sources. This includes an ambitious decarbonisation plan, increase of renewable sources, improvement of energy efficiency and climate-neutrality commitments set for 2040. Moreover, given that agriculture is the most pollutant sector in terms of methane emissions, a company in this industry standing out for its commitments is the French diary company Danone. To further reduce its GHG emissions, Danone committed to reduce by 30% its absolute methane emissions from fresh milk for their dairy products by 2030 compared to 2020 level. Fresh milk is their first ingredients and represents around 70% of Danone’s methane emissions. To abate the remaining 30% methane emissions Danone aims at engaging with its dairy ingredients suppliers to encourage reduction commitments.

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About Aurora Benedetti

Sustainability professional aiming to help companies and societies rethink and minimise their impact on the environment.

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