Oil Change International

April 2020

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This briefing provides a technical analysis of how the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2019 World Energy Outlook (WEO), released in November 2019, continues to steer governments and investors off track in tackling the climate crisis.

The IEA is under mounting pressure from governments, business leaders, energy experts, and climate scientists to reform the WEO to align fully with the Paris Agreement goals: to develop a robust, precautionary 1.5°C-aligned energy scenario and to make this the central scenario in its flagship publication.

In 2019, the IEA responded to calls for greater ambition and transparency with some minor changes. However, the IEA did not make the critical substantive shifts needed to align with Paris ambition. Specifically:

  1. The WEO’s default scenario leads towards climate breakdown.
  2. The WEO omits a credible 1.5°C pathway, yet investment decisions must align with that limit immediately.
  3. The IEA suggests that risky, unproven technologies can compensate for the excess burning of fossil fuels.
  4. The WEO continues to project large deployments of capital into the development of new fossil fuels.

In 2020, the IEA has moved to position itself publicly as a leader on climate change, launching a ‘Grand Coalition’ initiative to “bridge the gap between energy and climate goals” and urging governments to ensure clean energy is at the heart of fiscal stimulus packages.

However, the IEA’s bid for climate leadership lacks credibility, given that the agency’s own scenarios and messaging continue to steer the world off track from meeting the Paris goals. In order to retain relevance with political and financial decisionmakers, the IEA must urgently make a 1.5°C scenario the central scenario in the 2020 World Energy Outlook.

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Learn more about the campaign to #FixTheWEO and reform the IEA: