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If the world achieves net-zero emissions by 2050, the carbon footprint of today’s children will be 10 times lower than the emissions generated by their grandparents, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday.
The Net-Zero Scenario of the agency—which sparked a lot of controversy over the “no new investments in oil and gas, ever” stance—says that people will have to fundamentally change the way they consume energy.
“This goal – which offers the world a fighting chance of limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 °C and avoiding the worst effects of climate change – requires a total transformation of how we produce, transport and consume energy. It is an achievable but immensely challenging undertaking,” IEA analysts wrote in a commentary on Tuesday.
In the IEA net-zero scenario, the average person born in the 1950s would emit 350 tons of CO2 over their lifetime. Babies born in the 2020s would emit on average just 34 tons of CO2 each in the net-zero scenario.
“In other words, the average Baby Boomer – defined by the Pew Center as individuals born between 1950 and 1964 – would emit 10 times more in their lifetime than the average member of Generation Alpha, which refers to those born today or in the coming years. Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, would average 110 tons of CO2 over their lifetimes if the world manages to reach net zero by 2050,” the IEA said.
In other words, future generations will need much more affordable low-carbon energy than it is available today, if they are to emit 10 times less than the Baby Boomers. Of course, today’s babies have much more at stake with the global warming in the coming decades, and they will also have the most to gain if the world succeeds in the energy transition.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com