Top international energy and climate leaders from more than 40 countries took part in the International Energy Agency IEA-COP26 Net Zero Summit on March 31 to identify how to work together to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said the EU is joining forces with the IEA to grow the global movement for net-zero emissions. “Europe is determined to reach climate neutral EU by 2050 and we urge others to join in this effort,” he wrote in a tweet.

The Net Zero Summit, co-hosted by IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol and COP26 President Alok Sharma, brought together high-level representatives of energy and climate ministries from countries including Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Africa, the United Kingdom and many others.

“It is time for the world to move from a decade of climate change deliberation to a decade of delivery, Sharma said, adding that the UK strongly encourages countries to endorse the IEA’s seven principles for achieving net zero. “Today’s Summit clearly showed willingness from governments, civil society and businesses to work together in each emitting sector to make this happen and keep the 1.5-degree target within reach,” he said. “This should not be viewed as a shouldering of a burden, but more a sharing of an opportunity. By working together, we can accelerate progress, create jobs and prosperity, and protect our planet for future generations,” he added.

Birol said the Net Zero Summit made clear that the vast majority of the world agrees on the gravity of the climate crisis and the urgency of immediate actions to put global emissions on track towards net zero. “But it also underscored the need for greater international collaboration to drive the rapid global deployment of clean technologies across all the key sectors of the economy,” he said. “No country can do this alone. If we want the transition to clean energy to happen quickly, the world’s major economies have to work much more effectively and closely together. The Summit’s Key Principles show what needs to happen, and I offer the IEA’s full support for the UK COP26 Presidency’s efforts to strengthen the international cooperation mechanisms that will accelerate our transition to net zero,” Birol added.

The Summit is a critical milestone on the road to COP26 in Glasgow in November. It brought together representatives of countries covering more than 80% of global GDP, population and emissions. Key participants included China’s Energy Minister Zhang Jianhua, India’s Minister of Power, New and Renewable Energy Raj Kumar Singh and US Presidential Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

Kerry called for much stronger and concrete policy action in the next 5 years across the world and promised that the US will do its part.

Many IEA member governments supported the Seven Key Principles presented by the IEA at the Summit to guide the implementation of net zero commitments. The principles cover essential areas such as the need for sustainable recoveries from the COVID-19 crisis, the critical importance of implementable emissions reduction roadmaps for the current decade, and the development of stronger mechanisms for international coordination to accelerate innovation and deployment in each major emitting sector of the global economy. The principles also address issues such as technology collaboration, best-practice sharing, investment tracking, ensuring people-centred transitions, and integrating energy security and affordability into net zero plans.

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