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Oil Change International, 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, Earthworks, Friends of the Earth Europe, Global Witness, Greenpeace USA, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, and urgewald.

October 2019

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The latest climate science and rapidly changing energy markets indicate the need to rapidly shift away from fossil gas, yet the IEA mistakenly presents gas as compatible with a decarbonized future. This policy brief brings together the latest energy market research with the need for reform of the World Energy Outlook.

With its over reliance on natural gas, the International Energy Agency’s flagship World Energy Outlook (WEO) promotes an energy scenario that will exhaust a global 1.5°C carbon budget by the early 2030s. The Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), despite its name, only provides a chance of limiting warming to 1.7 to 1.8 degrees Celsius. A year after the IPCC special report on 1.5°C exposed how damaging warming at these levels or beyond will be, advocates are calling on the IEA to chart a path to safer levels of warming with greater certainty.

The briefing note outlines three key recommendations for the IEA to pursue in order to better map out a sustainable energy pathway. They include:

  1. Align the Sustainable Development Scenario with the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C and adopt a precautionary approach to the use of negative emissions technologies;
  2. Align IEA communications and policy recommendations on gas production and consumption with the implications of a fully Paris-aligned scenario; and 
  3. Focus the WEO on a strengthened version of the Sustainable Development Scenario, instead of the business-as-usual path (formerly the New Policies Scenario, now expected to be named the Stated Policies Scenario) which ensures climate collapse.

The IEA has demonstrated its capacity for reform in the past. It has the opportunity to rise to the challenge of guiding the world to a more secure and sustainable energy future. Following these recommendations would help ensure that the IEA remains relevant as the world moves to rapidly transition away from fossil fuel dependence.

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2 Comments

  • Fracking is a dreadfully destructive process which must be stopped. In addition to leaking Methane which is a very damaging greenhouse gas, fracking requires massive amounts of fresh water and therefor contributes to water shortages throughout the world. Please don’t perpetuate the myth that natural gas is a bridge fuel. It is a fossil fuel as destructive as coal and oil.

  • My background in salmon and steelhead restoration, along with frequent lecture attendance in the later part of my career, as well as my retirement project of having electric panels and heat pumps installed on my house, have convinced me that we must expect more from the IEA. We should turn our energy use around In general (not just the issue of fracking, in which the previous writer is right-on). The IEA must change its focus from continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels, to their complete substitution by non-fossil fuels, ideally solar and wind power as leaders. I implore you to take an honest approach, one which all the world’s people, poor and rich too, can put their money into. Nothing less will see us through this crisis.

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