The world will need to invest up to $173 trillion in greener energy infrastructure and supply over the next 30 years if it wants to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, BloombergNEF said in its New Energy Outlook 2021 report published on Wednesday.
If governments and companies want to see the coveted 2050 net-zero emissions they have been racing to pledge in recent months, they would need to invest between $92 trillion and $173 trillion in the next three decades, according to BNEF.
The energy transition that would be compatible with a net-zero world in 2050 would need rapid scaling of investment, the research firm says, adding that “the route to net-zero remains yet uncertain.”
According to BNEF, the world needs to more than double yearly investments in order to achieve net-zero emissions. Those investments should jump from around $1.7 trillion annually at present to “somewhere between $3.1 trillion and $5.8 trillion per year on average over the next three decades.”
BNEF believes that this decade will be critical to set the world on a track that could allow it to reach the Paris Agreement targets.
“There is no time to waste. If the world is to achieve or get close to meeting net-zero by mid-century, then we need to accelerate deployment of the low-carbon solutions we have this decade – that means even more wind, solar, batteries, and electric vehicles, as well as heat pumps for buildings, recycling and greater electricity use in industry, and redirecting biofuels to shipping and aviation,” BNEF chief economist Seb Henbest said.
Capital expenditures will create opportunities for investors and financial institutions, BNEF says, but didn’t specify who will foot the enormous bill.
If the world is to come anywhere close to limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or below, it will need, collectively, a bare minimum of $30 trillion to $40 trillion of investment in energy systems and decarbonization of industries where emissions are notoriously hard to abate such as steel and cement making. That’s Wood Mackenzie’s bare-minimum estimate of investments needed to support the energy transition and the net-zero emission aspirations of a growing number of countries.