IEA aims to close the gap between energy and climate goals

Source: press releases, IEA

February conference in the International Energy Agency’s “Big Ideas” speaker series
February conference in the International Energy Agency’s “Big Ideas” speaker series (photo: IEA)

Earlier this month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) hosted ministers and high-level representatives from COP host countries to discuss how the energy sector can work to meet climate and other sustainability goals.

As part of the IEA’s “Big Ideas” speaker series, the conference was attended by ambassadors and senior representatives from approximately 50 countries, industry executives, and representatives from financial and international organisations.

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said in his opening remarks:

“Without solving the challenge of the energy sector, we have no chance of solving our climate challenge. We want 2019 to be remembered as the year of peaking global emissions and the 2020s as the decade of the decline in emissions. And the energy sector is ready to be part of the solution.”

Just the day before the conference, the IEA had released figures that revealed global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions stopped growing in 2019 and appear to be levelling. Although the source of the positive figures could be traced back to the most advanced economies, this positive news set the tone for the meeting.

During the event, Dr Birol emphasised that the energy sector, as a significant source of global greenhouse gas emissions, has a key role to fill in supporting governments’ goals to attain climate targets.

Also announced was the upcoming “IEA Clean Energy Transitions Summit”, to be held in Paris on 9 July. The summit, a ministerial level event, “will bring together key government ministers, CEOs, investors and other major stakeholders from around the world with the aim of accelerating the pace of change through ambitious and real-world solutions”. Discussion will focus on technologies and fuels – and other concrete actions – that will contribute to reducing carbon emissions.

As the IEA reported the day before the event, “emissions trends for 2019 suggest clean energy transitions are underway, led by the power sector”, with a reduction of 1.2%, which for the most “advanced economies” meant a decline in CO2emissions to levels that rival the late 1980s.

In the lead up to July’s summit, the IEA will publish two studies. The first, a World Energy Outlook Special Report, will map a scenario with the goal of cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by a third by 2030. The second, a new edition of the IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives report will focus on how the energy sector can reach net-zero emissions.

On the day before the announced July 9th summit, the fifth edition of the IEA’s annual energy efficiency ministerial conference will take up the findings of the Agency’s Global Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency – which has been tracking energy efficiency efforts and how they can be rapidly accelerated by new and stronger policy action.

To succeed in meeting the climate challenge, Dr Birol emphasised the need for a “grand coalition”:

“The debate around climate change is sometimes too heated and there is too much tension between the energy community and the climate change community. We think this debate needs to be taken in a cool-headed manner. This calls for a grand coalition that brings together all the stakeholders that have a genuine commitment to reducing emissions – governments, industry, financial institutions, international organisations and civil society. Without this grand coalition, it will be very difficult to address this challenge.”