Phase out fossil fuel subsidies and limit use of coal-fired plants, IEA says

The world is not on track to reach its goal of limiting global temperature increase to 2°C, warned the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Monday.

Highlighting the need for intensive action in the energy sector before 2020, the IEA noted that the energy sector accounts for about two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels.

“Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities,” Marie van der Hoeven, IEA Executive Director said in a press release that accompanied the London launch of an IEA report, Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map. “But the problem is not going away – quite the opposite.”

“This report shows that the path we are currently on is more likely to result in a temperature increase of between 3.6 °C and 5.3 °C but also finds that much more can be done to tackle energy-sector emissions without jeopardising economic growth, an important concern for many governments,” van der Hoeven said.

In its “4-for-2 °C Scenario,” the IEA report examines four energy policies that can deliver significant emissions reductions by 2020, rely only on existing technologies and have already been adopted successfully in several countries.

The report says that limiting the construction and use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants could deliver more than 20% of the emissions reduction and help curb local air pollution. “The share of power generation from renewables increases (from around 20% today to 27% in 2020), as does that from natural gas,” it adds.

It adds that “implementing a partial phase-out of fossil fuel consumption subsidies accounts for 12% of the reduction in emissions and supports efficiency efforts.”

Other measures include actions to halve methane (a potent greenhouse gas) and ,targeted energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport.

The IEA report garnered much global media attention:

“The IEA has calculated that making clean energy investments sooner would be cheaper than leaving them until after 2020,” the Guardian story said. “About $1.5 trillion should be spent before 2020 to meet climate targets, it found, but if the investments are left until after 2020 it will take $5 trillion to achieve the same results.”

“The European Union needs to think of other ways to prevent new coal-fired power stations from being built because its carbon market won’t achieve that this decade,” the IEA said, according to a Bloomberg News article.


By Chris Rose,