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IEA Calls for Radical Action for Clean Energy Transformation

IEA12 May 2014: Global progress towards a clean energy transformation has stalled or even declined in recent years, according to a report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The Agency's 'Energy Technology Perspectives 2014' (ETP 2014) report finds that the growth rate in the deployment of solar photovoltaics, onshore wind, and electric vehicles has slowed, and nuclear power generation has stagnated, while growth in coal is greater than the combined total of all clean energy technologies combined.

The report was launched at the Fifth Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in Seoul, South Korea. IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven underlined that “we're on the wrong path at the moment,” adding that the increasing use of coal “is overshadowing progress in renewable energy deployment." She underlined that the emissions intensity of the electricity system has remained unchanged in 20 years despite some progress in some regions, calling for a "long overdue" change of course at the global level.

Organized under the theme ‘Harnessing Electricity's Potential,' the ETP 2014 explores policy options for economically achieving the twin goals of energy security and climate mitigation. Specifically, the report models how the global energy system could develop across 500 technology options through 2050 under three climate scenarios. The most ambitious scenario that limits global temperature increases to two degrees Celsius includes strong policies to boost energy efficiency, cuts global carbon emissions by 50%, and limits increases in energy demand to 25%. By contrast, the worst-case scenario sees global temperatures rise to six degrees Celsius, as energy demand soars by 70% and emissions rise by 60% over 2011 levels. In addition to energy efficiency, the report emphasizes the need for “systems thinking” for cross-sector integration; new and innovative financing, policy, and market options; and drastic changes in supply and demand through increased stakeholder coordination.

An excerpt report, 'Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2014', offers additional details on key clean energy technologies and sectors, tracking them against interim 2025 targets towards the two degree scenario.

ETP2014 also offers regional results, including a special chapter on India, where institutional and structural barriers are impeding the energy transformation needed to foster economic growth and bring access the country's 300 million people who currently lack access to electricity. Other key findings include: the fundamental incompatibility of the increased use of coal with global climate goals, without widespread deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS); the limits for energy storage alone to deliver game-changing transformations; and the need for natural gas to be managed as a transitional fuel and not a long-term low-carbon solution. [IEA Press Release] [Publication: Energy Technology Perspectives 2014] [Publication: Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2014] [Publication: Energy Technology Perspectives 2014 Executive Summary] [Publication: Energy Technology Perspectives 2014 Factsheet] [IISD RS Coverage of CEM]