Global Clean Energy Transition to Reach Net Zero by 2050

A vision for a modern, 21st century sustainable world - Renewable energy. Sustainability. Global climate action.

Green City Times™, LLC

Global Clean Energy Transition To Reach Net Zero By 2050Gain insight into climate solutions such as:

Current cutting-edge clean energy technologies are examined, including the latest GCT featured articles. Explore our articles on energy storage, next-gen batteries, nuclear energy, and solutions to fossil fuels.

Sources of renewable energy are described in detail; solar PV & solar thermal, wind & offshore wind farms, biomass & biofuels, hydroelectricity, and geothermal energy. Also see our views on carbon pricing, feed-in tariffs, net metering & RPS. GCT offers a comprehensive public policy plan for climate action to achieve global net zero GHG emissions.

Chief among technological climate & energy solutions is a global increase of renewable emissions-free energy sources. The two least expensive energy sources in the world today are also renewable, and GHG emissions-free (from the actual energy generation stage) - solar and wind.

Additionally, find featured GCT deep dives, such as - Renewable Energy Jobs are UP, and RE costs are down (an article on the fastest job growth sector globally - clean energy), and The RISE of SOLAR. While you will find articles on relatively simple technologies such as LED lighting, you can also discover articles on cutting-edge technological breakthroughs in solar and wind, next-gen batteries, nuclear energy, and LEED buildings.

Along with featuring the world's GREENEST CITIES, GCT also features the latest global trends in sustainability. Gain insight into the latest global progress on climate goals made at the Paris Climate Accord. See Green City Times' 10+ point plan for successful climate change mitigation to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

Global temperature rise this century should be held to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and ideally to 1.5°C. The entire world needs to aim for a 50% reduction of GHGs this decade, and again the following decade, in order to put the world on the path to net zero GHGs (carbon neutrality) by 2050. CO2 already in the atmosphere also needs to be sequestered (using the techniques described below, after mitigation strategies).

how to get to net-zero

It is critical to realize that solutions already in the global market include the most significant, cost-efficient, technological climate mitigation technologies. These solutions are readily available today at a large enough scale to be effective solutions to global warming immediately upon mass deployment. Readily available solutions include solar, wind (and other renewables), energy storage, and energy efficiency technologies, as well as electric vehicles.

Renewable energy, energy storage, energy efficiency, EVs, and other readily available sustainable technologies, must be implemented on a large enough scale globally to be effective from a global climate standpoint - see GCT's 10+ Point Plan for Climate Mitigation.

Reducing global GHGs entails the global clean energy transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to an economy based on renewable energy. However, a successful energy transition also involves other proactive clean energy measures. Key among these measures are increased electrification and energy efficiency technologies for multiple sectors of the urban economy. The global energy transition requires cities to electrify everything - transportation, buildings; every urban economic sector.

Successful global climate action WILL be achieved - when electrification and decarbonization of ALL urban economic sectors are pursued as expeditiously as possible worldwide.

Green City Times details global low carbon energy transition pathways, as well as zero emissions energy strategies (such as mass global deployment of solar, wind, and energy storage technologies). Worldwide, many different low-carbon pathways are needed, in addition to strategies to sequester carbon already in the planet's atmosphere, in order to achieve carbon neutrality (with the target of net zero emissions globally by 2050).

Clean energy technological solutions CAN bring the world to carbon neutrality (net zero) by 2050; before a global phase-out of carbon-intensive and environmentally polluting energy sources really takes hold in the latter half of this century. Greater investment in clean energy technologies is needed globally, both for currently implemented technological solutions, as well as for clean energy solutions in various stages of R&D.

In its World Energy Outlook (2020), the International Energy Agency identifies pathways for clean energy technological solutions needed to reach global carbon neutrality (i.e. net zero GHG emissions) by 2050. It also details interim goals that will ensure the world is on the path to carbon neutrality.

Here's a brief description of just 3 of those interim goals. By 2030, low carbon sources need to generate 75% of the world's energy, up from 40%. Global electric vehicle sales need to increase from <3% of new vehicle sales (now`6%) to 50% by 2030. By 2030, in the developed, industrial world, 1/2 of all buildings need retrofitting to create energy efficient buildings that rely on clean energy and electricity for core functions (in the developing world, that number drops to 1/3 of all buildings need to be retrofitted with energy efficiency upgrades by 2030). 

Reaching these goals, among other challenging near-term global sustainability goals, is necessary to ensure that the planet remains well below 2°C global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels (and ideally to no more than 1.5°C), a major goal of the Paris Climate Accord.

There must be global prioritization of generating energy with low emission energy technologies. On the path to net zero carbon emissions, energy sources need to be clean energy in the near-term (not necessarily just 100% renewable energy) - i.e. nuclear energy, natural gas combined cycle with CCS, and other low carbon sources of gas energy such as biogas, syngas from gasification, waste-to-energy, and anaerobic digestion.

There must also be a global expansion of research and development of clean energy technologies as the world aims to achieve net zero. This means expanded global public-private investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

In addition, it is necessary to increase global investment by governments and the private sector worldwide in energy storage and in electrifying transportation. Another area where electrification is needed is buildings, in order to create energy efficient buildings (both increased investment in meeting energy efficiency standards for new construction, and investment in retrofitting and weatherizing existing residential & commercial buildings with the latest energy efficiency technologies).

Also needed investment in other areas of innovation in emerging sustainable energy technologies that are still in R&D. Examples here include hydrogen (both for transportation and energy storage), carbon capture, advanced nuclear, and nascent advanced battery technologies not yet in the global market.

Many of these technologies are commercially viable and represent emerging options for the expansion of current sustainable urban development. A few examples of emerging advanced clean energy technologies include next-generation batteries, cellulosic biofuels, and other next-gen biofuels, such as algae.

Other readily available, cost-efficient, effective, technological solutions for a low carbon energy transition include demand response, district heating, combined heat & power, gasification & waste-to-energy, and anaerobic digestion.

We also provide insight into the future of a current zero carbon emissions energy source - advanced nuclear - (optimistically) improved in the coming decades by Gen IV and small modular reactor technologies. (Gen IV nuclear is still in R&D, and hopefully will be developed effectively, yet remains expensive at this point).

There must be a global investment in every available, expedient, and viable, GHG mitigation measure; as well as increased investment in carbon removal measures. CCS for energy generation with carbon-intensive fuels, as well as direct carbon capture (DAC), are promising technologies for removing carbon from emission-intensive energy generation before the carbon reaches the atmosphere (DAC would also remove carbon already in the atmosphere). However, there are several readily available measures that represent the planet's best bets for sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

These readily available solutions include:

  • restoring, conserving, and protecting ecosystems and biodiversity
  • developing and maintaining urban forestry & green urban spaces
  • conservation of wildlife habitats and wilderness; including planting, growing and conserving trees

These sustainable measures represent immediate solutions of expanding natural carbon sinks needed to ensure a healthy planet. The most efficient "technological" climate solution in terms of sequestering atmospheric CO2, is the simple ancient "technology" of planting trees.

Forests (including urban forestry) need to be created on a large enough scale (trillions of trees globally), so that existing carbon is sequestered from the atmosphere to create a net zero future. Together with all of the above sustainable pathways, a focus on planting trees will create a healthy future planet.