Redrawing the energy-climate map: world energy outlook special report

Redrawing the energy-climate map: world energy outlook special report

IEA report outlining a potential global energy strategy designed to keep global warming below 2°C.

Concerned that the target of limiting the global temperature increase to 2°C is not on track, the International Energy Agency produced this World Energy Outlook Special Report through extensive consultation and a high-level workshop in Paris (March 2013).

It begins by contextualising the energy industry and climate change, discussing recent policy developments, and looking at the status and trends of global emissions. It then outlines, by fuel, region and sector, the differences between a current-policy scenario and one in which the 2°C target may be reached. The paper presents four policies that the authors believe meet four key criteria: they can deliver large reductions in energy sector emissions; they are feasible with existing technology; they have passed proof of concept; and they would not harm economic growth if adopted by all countries. Entitled the 4-for-2°C scenario, the policies are:

  • Adopting specific energy efficiency measures (49% of emissions saved), including the introduction or strengthening of energy performance standards, investment in which would be more than offset by reduced spending on fuel bills.
  • Limiting current use and future construction of the least-efficient coal-fired power plane (21%). In the scenario envisaged, use of these plants would decrease 25% by 2020, primarily from China, the USA and India. This would reduce emissions by an estimated 640 Mt and help curb local air pollution.
  • Minimising methane emissions from upstream oil and gas production (18%). Relatively low-cost opportunities to reduce the venting and flaring of methane, particularly in Russia, the Middle-East, the USA and Africa, could see such emissions halved by 2020.
  • Accelerating the partial phase-out of subsidies to fossil-fuel consumption (12%). In 2011, fossil fuel subsidies exceeded support for renewable energy by 6:1, coming in at a total of $523 billion. An estimated reduction of 360 Mt of CO2 emissions could be achieved through widespread adoption of subsidy reform.
The paper concludes with a focus on the impacts of climate change on the energy sector, in terms of both supply and demand, as well as the sector's overall climate resilience. The report highlights the need to ensure assets are resilient to physical climate threats, and that corporate strategy can incorporate the possibility of stronger climate change policies.
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