Energy groups must stop all new oil and gas exploration projects from this year if global warming is to be kept in check, the International Energy Agency said. The proposal is part of a scenario outlined in a report on ways to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, a prerequisite to meet the Paris climate accord goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Aside from drastically cutting fossil fuel consumption, an unprecedented jump in spending on low carbon technologies would also be required — around $5tn in energy investments per year by 2030, up from around $2tn today, the report said. “We need a historical surge in investment,” said Fatih Birol, head of Paris-based IEA on Tuesday, adding that this would add 0.4 per cent annually to GDP growth. “The bulk of it needs to be in clean energy.”

The IEA’s Net Zero report comes as the institution founded in 1974 as the oil watchdog for Western countries has faced pressure from climate activists to produce a road map to the target. It details an overhaul of energy supply and demand whereby coal demand would plunge by 90 percent, gas demand would halve and oil demand would shrink nearly 75 per cent by 2050.

Dave Jones, analyst at the climate think-tank Ember, said the report’s call to halt new oil and gas exploration was extremely surprising given the agency’s history. “I don’t think anyone expected this from the IEA. It is a huge turnround on their part,” he said. “It has been very pro-fossil, so to come out with something like this is just amazing . . . This is truly a knife in the fossil fuel industry.”

The majority of the global economy is subject to some form of net zero emissions target, which means eliminating virtually all carbon dioxide emissions and compensating for the rest through carbon removal programmes.