• The UN’s Global Roadmap sets out milestones the world must reach to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • It includes no new coal power plans after 2021 and $35bn annual investment in access to electricity by 2025.
  • The UN also wants to see 30 million jobs created in renewable energy by 2025.
  • Without deep decarbonization, the goal of the Paris Agreement will “fall out of reach,” the UN says.

If everyone had access to clean, affordable energy, the road to a carbon-neutral world – net-zero emissions by 2050 – would be faster.

That’s why the United Nations launched a roadmap for the clean energy transition during the COP26 climate change conference earlier this month.

The SDG7 Global Roadmap outlines how the world can move to clean energy by 2030, as part of the journey to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Clean energy is energy from sources that don’t pollute the atmosphere, like solar or wind power.

“Close to 760 million people still lack access to electricity,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the launch of the Global Roadmap. “Some 2.6 billion people lack access to clean cooking solutions. And how we produce and use energy is the main cause of the climate crisis.”

2025 milestones.
2025 milestones.
Image: UN SDG7 Global Roadmap

Global Roadmap goals

Four years from now – by 2025 – the goal is that 500 million more people will have access to electricity, while 1 billion more people will be able to access clean cooking solutions.

To achieve this, $35 billion and $25 billion needs to be invested into improving access to electricity and clean cooking, respectively.

By 2025, the roadmap also calls for subsidies for fossil fuel consumption to be re-directed towards renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The world’s annual investment in renewables and energy efficiency must double over the same time frame.

The UN also wants to see 30 million jobs created in renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2025, doubling to 60 million jobs by 2030.

“These will help ensure an inclusive, green recovery by investing in poverty reduction, health, education and social protection,” the UN says.

2030 milestones
2030 milestones
Image: UN SDG7 Global Roadmap

Net zero means no new coal

Before this – by the end of 2021 – the roadmap calls for no new coal power plans to be in the pipeline.

By 2030, the roadmap’s goal is that coal power plants be phased out completely for member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and phased out globally by 2040.

By 2030, global annual investment into renewable energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy capacity also needs to triple, it says.

The Global Roadmap aims to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 – one of 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the UN General Assembly in 2015. It pledges to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” by 2030.

Achieving the milestones laid out in the roadmap would enable the world to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, says the UN.

Currently, the deployment of renewable energy is lagging, especially in transport, industry, heating and cooling, it adds.

And without deep decarbonization of global energy systems, the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5C will quickly “fall out of reach".

Cities, net zero carbon, environment, energy

What is the Forum doing to help cities to reach a net-zero carbon future?

In a major step, nine cities and more than 70 organizations in 10 different sectors have come together to build further momentum for a new multi-year initiative: Net Zero Carbon Cities.

Together with the Forum, they have created a vision for the future and launched a new framework to help cities rethink urban ecosystems, ensuring that they are greener, efficient, resilient, circular and more equitable.

Image: Integrated energy systems in cities (Source: Net Zero Carbon Cities: An Integrated Approach, 2021, World Economic Forum)

From policy-makers to businesses, city administrators, civil society and the financial sector, the World Economic Forum is convening a range of stakeholders with a role to play if global cities have a chance of reaching the net-zero carbon goal by 2030.

Companies can join the integrated approach to help shape city ecosystems to become net zero carbon by joining a Forum platform. Find out more in our impact story.