12 December 2019

Nathan Lemphers, nathan [at]
Hannah McKinnon, hannah [at]
Matt Maorana, matt [at]

12,000 demand the International Energy Agency step up or step aside on climate

The IEA has become a liability on climate with its annual World Energy Outlook failing to provide the critical tools to plan for Paris success

MADRID, SPAIN — The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook (WEO) guides global energy decisions but it does not contain a crucially needed 1.5°C scenario. Despite repeated calls from IEA member governments, the financial and climate science communities and the climate movement, the IEA has failed to provide a scenario that can guide the world to fully achieving the Paris goals.

“Instead of coming to the climate talks, the IEA should stay home until they have created a 1.5°C and placed it front and centre in the World Energy Outlook,” said Nathan Lemphers, Senior Campaigner with Oil Change International, “The world is asking for the IEA to deliver and we cannot wait any longer.”

The 2019 WEO’s central scenario (STEPs) models an energy future aligned with a catastrophic 3°C of warming. This scenario is used for countless financial and political energy decisions and thus risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. The IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario does not reach net-zero until 2070, 20 years too late according to the best available science.

“Millions of people took to the streets this year to demand climate action that would keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. That’s because our entire fate depends on it,” said Jamie Henn of “The least the IEA could do is crunch the numbers and put together a real scenario that matches the latest science. It’s time to listen to physics and chemistry, not the fossil fuel industry.”

The IEA’s WEO is frequently used to justify major new fossil fuel infrastructure, including coal in Australia, tar sands in Canada, fracking in the Permian, and offshore drilling in the Arctic. All of these new developments are incompatible with 1.5°C.

“Climate science clearly tells us we needed to drop fossil fuels yesterday. And in the Permian Basin where I live, it’s not just climate. Oil and gas expansion harms our health with toxic air pollution, our property with earthquakes, and our lives with explosions,” warned Lori Glover, Earthworks organiser and longtime Permian resident. “In every sense, the Permian is a carbon bomb, and rather than defusing it, the IEA is holding the match.”

“1.5°C is no paradise for the world’s most vulnerable countries. It is a compromise that will still cost lives and livelihoods,” says Renato Redentor Constantino, Advisor to the Climate Vulnerable Forum. “There should be no question that a 1.5°C scenario be the centerpiece of the World Energy Outlook. It is what we have all agreed on and it is a matter of life and death. The IEA is a tool of wealthy, developed countries that talk a big game on climate, and it is high time they step up.”


For more background:

Blog Analysis: The IEA and its 2019 World Energy Outlook: Still working for fossil fuels, not global climate goals
Blog Analysis: Pressure mounts for the IEA to improve the World Energy Outlook
Report: OFF TRACK: The IEA and Climate Change