IEA june 2015 -annual report release
A major milestone in efforts to combat climate change is fast approaching. The importance
of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) – to be held in Paris in December 2015 – rests
not only in its specific achievements by way of new contributions, but also in the direction
What does the energy sector need from COP21?
National pledges submitted for COP21 need to form the basis for a “virtuous circle” of rising
ambition. From COP21, the energy sector needs to see a projection from political leaders at
the highest level of clarity of purpose and certainty of action, creating a clear expectation
of global and national low-carbon development.
Four pillars can support that achievement:
1. Peak in emissions – set the conditions which will achieve an early peak in global
2. Five-year revision – review contributions regularly, to test the scope to lift the level
3. Lock in the vision – translate the established climate goal into a collective long-term
emissions goal, with shorter-term commitments that are consistent with the longterm
4. Track the transition – establish an effective process for tracking achievements in
the energy sector.
Peak in emissions
The IEA proposes a bridging strategy that could deliver a peak in global energy-related
emissions by 2020. A commitment to target such a near-term peak would send a clear
message of political determination to stay below the 2 °C climate limit. The peak can be
achieved relying solely on proven technologies and policies, without changing the economic
and development prospects of any region, and is presented in a “Bridge Scenario”. The
technologies and policies reflected in the Bridge Scenario are essential to secure the longterm
decarbonisation of the energy sector and their near-term adoption can help keep the
door to the 2 °C goal open. For countries that have submitted their INDCs, the proposed
strategy identifies possible areas for over-achievement. For those that have yet to make a
submission, it sets out a pragmatic baseline for ambition.
The Bridge Scenario depends upon five measures:
Increasing energy efficiency in the industry, buildings and transport sectors.
Progressively reducing the use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants and
banning their construction.
Increasing investment in renewable energy technologies in the power sector from
$270 billion in 2014 to $400 billion in 2030.
Gradual phasing out of fossil-fuel subsidies to end-users by 2030.
Reducing methane emissions in oil and gas production.
These measures have profound implications for the global energy mix, putting a brake on
growth in oil and coal use within the next five years and further boosting renewables. In
the Bridge Scenario, coal use peaks before 2020 and then declines while oil demand rises
to 2020 and then plateaus. Total energy-related GHG emissions peak around 2020. Both
the energy intensity of the global economy and the carbon intensity of power generation
improve by 40% by 2030. China decouples its economic expansion from emissions growth
by around 2020, much earlier than otherwise expected, mainly through improving the
energy efficiency of industrial motors and the buildings sector, including through standards
for appliances and lighting. In countries where emissions are already in decline today,
the decoupling of economic growth and emissions is significantly accelerated; compared
14 World Energy Outlook | Special Report
with recent years, the pace of this decoupling is almost 30% faster in the European
Union (due to improved energy efficiency) and in the United States (where renewables
contribute one-third of the achieved emissions savings in 2030). In other regions, the link
between economic growth and emissions growth is weakened significantly, but the relative
importance of different measures varies. India utilises energy more efficiently, helping it
to reach its energy sector targets and moderate emissions growth, while the reduction of
methane releases from oil and gas production and reforming fossil-fuel subsidies (while
providing targeted support for the poorest) are key measures in the Middle East and Africa,
and a portfolio of options helps reduce emissions in Southeast Asia. While universal access
to modern energy is not achieved in the Bridge Scenario, the efforts to reduce energyrelated
emissions do go hand-in-hand with delivering access to electricity to 1.7 billion
people and access to clean cookstoves to 1.6 billion people by 2030.
A five-year cycle for the review of mitigation targets is needed to provide the opportunity
for commitment to stronger climate ambition over time. The energy context in which
climate goals are being set is changing rapidly as the cost and performance of many lowcarbon
technologies improves and countries start to see the success of their low-carbon
policies. The strategy set out in the Bridge Scenario can keep the 2 °C climate goal within
reach in the near-term, but goals beyond 2025 need to be strengthened in due course.
Agreeing a mechanism at COP21 that will permit reviewing the level of ambition every five
years will regularly shine a light on progress, and send a clearer message to investors of the
long-term commitment to the full extent of the necessary decarbonisation.
Lock in the vision
Translating the 2 °C goal into subordinate targets, including a clear, collective long-term
emissions goal, would provide greater ease and certainty in expressing future policy on a
basis consistent with the longer term objective. Such targets would reinforce the need for
the energy sector to adopt a long-term development pathway that is low carbon. Fostering
the development of new technologies will be necessary in order to achieve the ultimate
climate goal and, as set out in the “450 Scenario”, measures beyond those in the Bridge
Scenario could allow the necessary technologies to reach maturity before they need to be
widely deployed. Early support of wind and solar technologies has played a pivotal role
in driving down costs and achieving their large-scale deployment. A similar approach is
needed to develop and deploy technologies that safeguard the reliability of power supply
as the contribution of variable renewables increases (e.g. through energy storage), deliver
additional emissions reductions in the power sector and industry (e.g. carbon capture and
storage) and grow the share of alternative fuel vehicles in road transport. Investment in
the 450 Scenario is only a little higher than other scenarios, but is oriented more strongly
towards low-carbon energy supply and energy efficiency, emphasising the need for
effective means to finance such investments (particularly in countries where such financing
instruments may not yet exist). There must be a strong process for tracking progress towards nationally determined
mitigation goals. Evidence of tangible results will give the necessary confidence to all
countries and energy sector stakeholders that everyone is acting in harmony. The related
energy data systems are, in any case, essential to underpin domestic policy-making and
identify those who are struggling with implementation and may need assistance. Details of
the post-2020 reporting and accounting frameworks may not be settled at COP21, but the
agreement should at least establish some high-level principles, including the need for rules
for the measurement and reporting of emissions and the need to develop accounting rules
for the different types of mitigation goals that are likely to be put forward by countries.
Tracking progress towards energy sector decarbonisation is complex and requires a
broader set of measurements than are collected and monitored in many countries today.
In recognition of this need, a set of appropriate high-level metrics to track energy sector
decarbonisation is proposed in the report.
Secure a legacy of energy change
Will 2015 be the year in which decision-makers are able to establish the much-needed
climate for change? The answer cannot yet be known. But to assist the process beyond
the recommendations in this report, the IEA will publish timely updates of its INDC
analysis, incorporating new submissions, in the lead up to COP21. It will also submit the
key findings of this report for endorsement by Ministers at their biennial meeting under
IEA auspices (17‑18 November 2015). Beyond COP21, the IEA will continue to assess the
impact of national contributions and collective prospects as they are further developed,
refined, revised and implemented, drawing on the wealth of energy data and indicators at
A transformation of the world’s energy system must become a uniting vision if the 2 °C
climate goal is to be achieved. The challenge is stern, but a credible vision of the long-term
decarbonisation of the sector is available to underpin shorter term commitments and the
means to realise it can, ultimately, be collectively adopted. The world must quickly learn to
live within its means if this generation is to pass it on to the next with a clear conscience.