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These pages and sections capture news of climate change and stories about the groundswell of climate action by governments, companies, cities, the UN and civil society around the globe. To provide feedback, email us at press@unfccc.int Photo©Naziha Mestaoui

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A peak in global energy-related emissions could be achieved as early as 2020 and at no net economic cost, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Monday in its new World Energy Outlook Special Report on Energy and Climate Change.

The IEA said that it has long emphasised that energy production and use which is not compatible with international environmental requirements is not sustainable: it fails the test of energy security. For that reason, it said, it contributed this report towards the COP21 conference in Paris, where governments will reach a new and universal climate change agreement. 

It noted that world greenhouse gas emissions from energy production and use are double the level of all other sources combined, meaning that action to combat climate change must come first and foremost from the energy sector. The IEA proposes that the following four key pillars are needed to make Paris a success, from an energy perspective:

1. Peak in emissions – set the conditions to achieve an early peak in global energy-related emissions.
2. Five-year revision – review national climate targets regularly, to test the scope to raise ambition.
3. Lock in the vision – translate the world's climate goal into a collective long-term emissions goal.
4. Track the transition – establish a process for tracking achievements in the energy sector.

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), welcomed the new report and said: “Peaking global emissions as swiftly as possible is a prerequisite for achieving the internationally-agreed goal of keeping a global temperature rise this century under 2 degrees C. This compelling assessment by the IEA confirms that with the right policies, pathways and support for developing countries a new, prosperous, low carbon economy can be created and catalyzed from the UN climate convention conference in Paris this December”.

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said: "As IEA analysis has repeatedly shown that the cost and difficulty of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions increases every year, time is of the essence. It is clear that the energy sector must play a critical role if efforts to reduce emissions are to succeed. While we see growing consensus among countries that it is time to act, we must ensure that the steps taken are adequate and that the commitments made are kept."

Peak in Energy as Early as 2020

The IEA report said that a peak in global energy-related emissions could be achieved as early as 2020, if governments implement just five key policy measures, as shown in the IEA’s “Bridge Scenario”. This major climate milestone is possible utilising only proven technologies and policies, and without changing the economic and development prospects of any region. Intended as an effective bridge to further action, the five measures focus on:

  • Increasing energy efficiency in the industry, buildings and transport sectors
  • 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

See the IEA's full press release.

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