World needs ‘laser-like focus’ on emissions cuts - IEA chief

Governments, investors, companies and “everyone else who is committed to tackling climate change” need urgently to form a grand coalition to cut greenhouse gas emissions, according to Fatih Birol, director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), in a stark warning about current climate policies.

Oil rig at dusk: under the central IEA scenario, oil demand will start to decline from the mid 2020s (Image: Nico Franz / Pixabay) Oil rig at dusk: under the central IEA scenario, oil demand will start to decline from the mid 2020s (Image: Nico Franz / Pixabay)

If governments continue on the current policy path, fuel and power consumption is set to rise inexorably over the next two decades, the IEA has said in its latest report. “In this scenario, energy demand rises by 1.3% a year to 2040, resulting in strains across all aspects of energy markets and a continued strong upward march in energy-related emissions,” it warned.

“What comes through with crystal clarity in this year’s World Energy Outlook is there is no single or simple solution to transforming global energy systems,” Birol said as he presented the report’s findings. Many technologies and fuels would play a role in the transformation needed across all sectors of the economy.

“For this to happen, we need strong leadership from policy makers, as governments hold the clearest responsibility to act and have the greatest scope to shape the future,” he added.

The report also presents a ‘stated policy’ scenario, outlining the likely impact of world leaders implementing only measures already announced and pledges such as those made under the Paris Agreement to tackle global warming.

“The future outlined in this scenario is still well off track from the aim of a secure and sustainable energy future,” according to the IEA. “It describes a world in 2040 where hundreds of millions of people still go without access to electricity, where pollution-related premature deaths remain around today’s elevated levels, and where CO2 emissions would lock in severe impacts from climate change.”

The report outlines the agency’s own ‘sustainable development scenario’, which sees increased deployment of renewables and electricity consumption overtaking oil as the main form of final energy consumption by 2040. “The world urgently needs to put a laser-like focus on bringing down global emissions,” Birol said.

Follow up: IEA report executive summary (free) and full report (€120).

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