13 October 2020

Hannah McKinnon, (CET)
Kelly Trout, (EDT)
David Tong, (NZT)
David Turnbull, (PDT)

Oil Change International Response to IEA’s 2020 World Energy Outlook
IEA takes critical but insufficient first step to align with 1.5ºC

Today, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its 2020 World Energy Outlook (WEO). For the first time, this year the WEO includes a so-called “Net Zero Emissions 2050” case, projecting CO2 emission reductions by 2030 that align with some 1.5ºC pathways.

Oil Change International, a leading critic of the fossil fuel industry bias of the IEA’s previous World Energy Outlooks, has undertaken a rapid analysis of this year’s WEO, and is releasing the statements below from a number of OCI experts. Oil Change International will undertake a more thorough analysis of WEO 2020 and post further insights at


Hannah McKinnon, Director of the Energy Transitions and Futures Program at Oil Change International said:

“WEO 2020 confirms: the IEA knows that it is facing an existential crisis and that they must step up on climate. A mini 1.5ºC scenario (NZE 2050) is a useful step, but until 1.5ºC is front and center in the WEO and all IEA tools, the IEA remains a threat to climate safety.

“Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is both urgent and possible, but governments and investors alike need pathways that allow them to plan for success, not further entrench fossil fuels. NZE2050 shows that the IEA is hearing growing demands to be on the right side of history. Now the IEA must take the next big step by making a 1.5ºC scenario fully fledged and central in 2021.”


Kelly Trout, Senior Research Analyst with Oil Change International said:

“Until the IEA puts a 1.5ºC scenario front and centre, it will continue to provide cover for deadly levels of fossil fuel investment. Whichever scenario the IEA presents as the ‘norm’ and prioritizes in its analysis becomes the benchmark for investors and governments. The IEA’s new 1.5ºC case is still a footnote compared to other scenarios, when it needs to be the focal point.

“The central scenario for governments and investors should be the one that avoids the most climate destruction and saves the most lives, not one that saves face for the fossil fuel industry.”


David Tong, Senior Campaigner with Oil Change International said:

“The pressure is working. The IEA has taken a small step towards 1.5ºC today and this would not have happened if concerned people and organisations hadn’t stepped up and demanded change.

“But, the IEA remains stuck in an existential crisis: serve the fossil fuel interests it was founded on or transform to lead in a clean energy revolution? The IEA and its boss, Dr. Fatih Birol, can’t have it both ways; he can rest assured that the calls for a better WEO will not slow after today’s release.”


For more information see:

  2. To advise on green stimulus, the IEA needs to upgrade its own climate toolbox, Kelly Trout, Oil Change International, 9 April 2020
  3. Joint Letter to Fatih Birol, 28 May 2020