Limiting the rise in average global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius requires all sectors of the economy to reach zero CO2 emissions early in the second half of this century. Doing so presents significant technical and economic challenges, particularly in some highly energy-intensive sectors of industry and transport. These challenges, however, cannot be deferred any longer. The Paris Agreement, in calling for rapid decarbonisation, has focused attention on the energy sector as a major source of global emissions. Policy makers and industry investors need to focus unerringly on scaling up the few options consistent with reaching the zero-emission goal. Most of those options rely on renewable energy technologies.

Four of the most energy-intensive industries and three key transport sectors stand out as the hardest to decarbonise. Together, those seven sectors could account for 38% of energy and process emissions and 43% of final energy use by 2050 unless major policy changes are pursued now. The “Reaching zero with renewables” study outlines the best available deep decarbonisation options for those sectors. Prepared by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), it supports the aim of holding the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius this century, compared to pre-industrial levels.