International Energy Agency fails to light the way to a safe climate future | WWF

International Energy Agency fails to light the way to a safe climate future

Posted on
10 November 2009
London: The keenly awaited 2009 World Energy Outlook contains some remarkable analysis but does not light the way to a safe carbon future, WWF said today.

Emissions cuts canvassed in the outlook, the flagship annual publication of the International Energy Agency (IEA), are too small and too slow to keep the world out of the danger zone of unacceptable risks of catastrophic climate change, said Dr Stephan Singer, WWFs Director of Global Energy Policy.

Scientists, the UN and many governments including the G8 group have accordingly endorsed an objective of keeping average global warming less than two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times - an objective WWF maintains would require developed nations cutting their emissions 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020.

But IEAs low emissions scenario sees OECD fossil fuel CO2 emissions down just 4.5 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

“The proposed CO2 emissions reductions by the IEA for the energy sector of the rich nations are dismal,” Dr Singer said. “The reductions seen as low carbon by the IEA are less even than the inadequate reductions so far on the table from developed nations for the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen next month.”
Also according to the IEA, global energy emissions would be one quarter more in 2030 than in the 1990 reference year.

"World-wide fossil fuel emissions in twenty years must be on a pathway to be reduced to more than 80% below 1990 levels by mid-century to curtail the climate crisis. The IEA's scenarios violate this trajectory," Dr Singer said.

For WWF, with about two thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, the energy sector has to lead the way to a low carbon future.

And although its alternative lower emissions scenario is clearly inadequate, WWF is pleased that the IEA identifies energy conservation as the measure with the best potential to bring it about.

“The IEA also finds most of the emissions savings mechanisms it identifies will be cost effective through the saving of fuel costs and this is a useful rebuff to those urging slow action or no action on climate on the basis of costs,” Dr Singer said.

“It is a pity that the IEA couldn’t stay up to date with the science on the level of emissions the atmosphere can safely digest and use this to point the way to a fully renewable power sector by mid-century.”

“What they are suggesting is not only dangerous, but it is much below what is technically possible.”


Most of the world's methods of producing, distributing and using energy are highly inefficient, and contribute to increasing levels of carbon dioxide emissions.
© WWF / Anton Vorauer