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DNV: High-income countries must reach net zero well before 2050

14 November 2023

It is improbable, but there is still a small possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. But it requires that high-income regions reach net zero already around 2040. This is according to DNV's report Pathway to Net Zero Emissions, which was presented at a webinar today.

The message from DNV is the exact opposite of what the Swedish government's expert John Hassler conveyed last month during his investigation into how Swedish climate policy should be developed. According to Hassler, Sweden's 2030 goals are obsolete, meaningless and expensive. Sweden should instead follow the new EU directives that make us climate neutral by 2050.

“If we in the EU progress twice as fast, then we might save a year for China or a few years for India. It will have a very small effect but will be very much more expensive”, Hassler told Lighthouse at the time.

DNV CEO Remi Eriksen has a completely different view when he presents The Pathway to Net Zero, which is a companion piece to DNV's Energy Transitions Outlook 2023, which arrived in October.

“We have to utilise the full policy toolbox for a faster transition. There is an urgent need to rethink and establish new policies, with international cooperation ensuring ownership of actions across all regions and sectors. It is crucial to stay as far below 2°C as possible, and every action to reduce emissions and accelerate energy transition is important. At this stage, every tenth of a degree of avoided temperature increase is highly important”

According to the report, every region of the world needs to do more and act faster, but some need to reach net zero sooner – OECD countries by 2045, China by 2050 and the rest of the world by 2060.

So how what shall we do to accomplish this difficult task? First and foremost, work must be done to replace oil, gas and coal with renewable electricity, hydrogen and biofuels as efficiently and quickly as possible. However, DNV does not see this as possible until 2050. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial that large investments is also made in technologies that collect and remove carbon dioxide.

According to DNV, we will need to capture 6 gigaton of carbon dioxide per year between 2050 and 2100 to reach the 1.5°C target.

DNV sees the development and deployment of solar power and electric vehicles going well, while most other technologies, including hydrogen production and carbon capture, need to be scaled up at a much faster rate. The same applies on the electrical side. To reach net zero, green electricity must make up almost 50% of the energy mix in 2050, which requires faster grid expansions than today. At the same time, energy efficiency improvements must be doubled compared to current levels.

Along with wind power, solar power is already the cheapest source of new electricity in most places in the world, and costs continue to fall rapidly as generation capacity increases. According to the report, solar energy could overtake oil as the largest energy source by 2040 and have a higher share than all fossil fuels combined by 2050.

Download the report

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