Five key actions to achieve a low-carbon energy sector

The International Energy Agency (IEA) laid out five actions needed over the short- and long-term to achieve a low-carbon energy sector, and proposed concrete options for their implementation in the international climate negotiations to be held next month in Lima, Peru.

“Energy accounts for two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, so any climate agreement that emerges will need to work for the real-world energy sector,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “Energy use has been, and will continue to be, a critical driver of economic growth, social development, and poverty reduction. The five priorities we are highlighting today are intended to bring energy-sector realities front and center in climate discussions.”

IEA modelling has long shown that limiting the global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (2oC) is technically feasible, but requires a fundamental transformation of the global energy system. Yet with progress lagging thus far, the IEA suggests that policy makers widen their focus and look at achieving synergies among energy, environmental and climate policies.

The IEA’s five actions are:

  • Seize the benefits of immediate action to bend the global emissions curve. To 2020, bridging 80% of the gap to an optimal 2oC path comes at no extra gross domestic product cost.
  • Focus on electricity decarbonisation. Strong policies supporting low-carbon electricity could more than halve electricity emissions in 2030. This would save 9.5 gigatonnes in 2030 – an amount larger than China’s total 2012 energy-related emissions.
  • Reshape investment and accelerate innovation in low-carbon technologies now. Multilateral collaboration is critical to the development and tailoring of nationally appropriate technology solutions.
  • Mobilise non-climate goals to promote energy sector decarbonisation. Health, transport, energy security, and other goals can also drive emissions reductions.
  • Strengthen the resilience of the energy sector to climate change. Even in a 2°C world, climate change poses threats to energy security that need to be addressed through policy and commercial actions.

The COP 20 negotiations to be held in Lima during the first two weeks of December are expected to be a critical step in the path towards a binding international climate agreement at next year’s COP 21 meeting in Paris. Following COP 20 in Lima, countries will officially put forward their planned contributions to the climate agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, or INDCs.

In addition to presenting the five actions needed to achieve a low-carbon energy sector, the IEA also offered options for advancing these actions in countries’ INDCs and in the text of the 2015 climate agreement. A list of these options is included in the IEA document The Way Forward: Five Key Actions to Achieve a Low-Carbon Energy Sector.

To download The Way Forward: Five Key Actions to Achieve a Low-Carbon Energy Sector, please click here.

To order the new IEA publication Energy, Climate Change and Environment: 2014 Insights, please click here.

To download the Executive Summary of Energy, Climate Change and Environment: 2014 Insights, please click here.

To read the opening remarks by Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven at the launch, please click here.

To view the presentation at the launch, please click here.