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IEA Outlines Strategy to Cut 2020 Energy-Related Emissions by 8%

IEA10 June 2013: The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a World Energy Outlook Special Report, titled 'Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map,' which presents a strategy to reduce energy-related carbon emissions in 2020 at no net economic cost to levels needed to limit the average global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius.

Speaking at the launch of the report, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven cautioned that “if we continue with business as usual, that rise could be 5.3 degrees Celsius, with potentially disastrous implications in terms of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and the huge economic and social costs that these can bring.”

“Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map” outlines a four-pronged approach for keeping on track to meet the two degree target by reducing emissions by 8%, or 3.1 gigatonnes carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2e), relative to emission levels expected under the business as usual scenario.

The four policies outlined under the report's "4-for-2 °C Scenario" are: adoption of energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport, for 49% of the reductions; limits on the construction and use of low-efficiency coal-fired power plants, for 21% of the reductions; halving methane emissions from upstream oil and gas operations, for 18% of the reductions; and a partial phase out of fossil fuel consumption subsidies, for 12% of the reductions.

The policies were selected on the basis of key criteria: ability to deliver significant reductions in the energy sector; reliance on existing technologies; proof and adoption in multiple countries; and lack of harm to any region or country.

The report underscores the urgency of immediate reductions, noting that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions reached a record high of 31.6 gigatonnes in 2012, an increase of 1.4% over 2011. The lead author of the report, IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, warned against the consequences of delayed action, noting that “rapid and widespread adoption could act as a bridge to further action, buying precious time while international climate negotiations continue.”

The report further identifies short- and long-term vulnerabilities to the energy sector from extreme weather events, sea level rise, water scarcity and other climate change impacts. It also underlines that immediate measures will bring financial gains, highlighting that US$1.5 trillion in delayed investments in low-carbon technologies before 2020 will require US$5 trillion in investments after 2020 to get back on track to meeting the two degree target. [IEA Press Release] [European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Press Release] [Publication: Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map] [Publication: Executive Summary of Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map] [Report Website] [Remarks by IEA Executive Director] [UN Press Release] [UNFCCC Executive Secretary Statement on the IEA Report]