COP21 subtopic COPEnergy production and use account for two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, transforming the energy sector is essential for addressing the climate challenge. December 2015 marked a major milestone in global efforts to tackle climate change. Countries from around the world gathered in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to negotiate an international agreement and set a direction for combating climate change within the next decade and beyond. Energy was at the core of the discussion. Read the IEA response to the result here.  ‌‌

IEA at COP21

The IEA congratulates all Parties, under the leadership of the French Presidency, for the successful conclusion of the landmark Paris Agreement. The Agency is pleased to see key energy sector priorities reflected in the Agreement, and stands ready to support its implementation.

IEA analysis and key messages to COP21

In the months leading up to the Paris negotiations, the IEA released a number of dedicated publications for delegations and observers, including the World Energy Outlook Special Report on Energy and Climate Change with a country-level analysis of INDCs, practical ways to raise ambitions and elements of a successful outcome of COP21 from an energy sector perspective; and the World Energy Outlook Special Briefing for COP21 with an update of the analysis of INDCs and their impact on the energy sector.

Several regular key IEA publications delivered additional important insights, including the Agency’s latest data on CO2 emissions, the World Energy Outlook 2015, Energy Technology Perspectives 2015, the Medium Term Renewable Energy Market Report, and the Energy Efficiency Market Report.

Building on the extensive IEA analysis leading up to the Paris talks, the IEA established four messages that could help COP21 shift the energy sector onto a low-carbon path that supports economic growth and energy access. The four key messages to COP were:

  1. Take five key actions, led by energy efficiency & renewables, to peak then reduce global energy emissions
  2. Use the Paris Agreement to drive short-term actions consistent with long-term emission goals
  3. Accelerate energy technology innovation to make decarbonisation easier and even more affordable
  4. Enhance energy security by making the energy sector more resilient to climate change impacts

IEA analysis was also supported by a Statement on Energy and Climate Change, which was issued by IEA Ministers in November 2015 and called for a successful outcome at COP21‌‌. In particular, it underlined the importance of five key energy sector measures that could lead to a peak in global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions while supporting economic growth and providing energy to more people. The proposed measures include:

  1. Increasing energy efficiency in the industry, buildings and transport sectors;
  2. Progressively reducing the use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants and banning their construction;
  3. Increasing investment in renewable energy technologies in the power sector from $270 billion in 2014 to $400 billion in 2030;
  4. Gradual phasing out of fossil-fuel subsidies to end-users by 2030;
  5. Reducing methane emissions in oil and gas production.

IEA activities at COP21

During COP21, these messages and other IEA analysis were presented by IEA staff at over 90 side events, interviews, and press conferences. The IEA organised 13 events drawing over 1500 attendees, including three key events: IEA Technical Day, Joint China/IEA High-Level Side Event, and IEA/ADB Official Side Event. IEA experts staffed publications stands in the Blue Zone and public Climate Generations area to engage with delegates and the public, in addition to participation at the OECD-IEA-ITF-NEA Pavilion. Executive Director Fatih Birol gave 14 speeches throughout COP21, including a statement to the COP Plenary, fielded over a dozen media interviews, and held bilaterals with Ministers and business leaders.

IEA at COP21


The Paris Agreement: Implications for the IEA

The IEA is pleased to see a number of priority elements included in the Agreement, as well as announcements on a number of key issues at COP, including:

  • Aim to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
  • Submission of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and a commitment to review the NDCs every five years, in line with IEA suggestions.
  • A single framework to track progress of NDCs for all countries with built-in flexibility for Parties' different circumstances.
  • Ambition to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.
  • Launch of Mission Innovation and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition and support for accelerating technology innovation.

The Paris Agreement has important implications for the Agency’s work moving forward.

First, we are refining long-term modelling scenarios below 2°C, and are analysing 1.5°C with the objective to understand the mix and timing of technologies and policies needed to achieve more ambitious long-term goals and contribute to the IPCC report in 2018.

Second, the WEO will continue to analyse NDCs and track their energy sector and energy technology implications. The IEA’s extensive experience in working with governments, collecting data, developing metrics and indicators, tracking and monitoring results will be an additional invaluable resource for countries as they implement and track progress towards their NDCs. We also plan to look beyond GHG emissions goals to monitor the drivers of transformation of the energy sector, for example by looking at whether investment patterns are shifting rapidly enough to low-carbon. This will be a critical input to the five-year reviews of progress.

Third, as a hub for clean energy technology, we will continue to support clean technology innovation with in-depth technology and policy analyses (e.g. Energy Technology Perspectives and Tracking Clean Energy Progress), and leverage our 40 years of experience in multilateral technology collaboration through the IEA Technology Collaboration Programmes.

Fourth, the IEA will continue to actively support energy sector capacity building, such as through its training and global upskilling on topics such as energy statistics, energy efficiency, clean energy including renewable system integration.

Finally, we will continue to develop our work on enhancing energy sector resilience to the impacts of climate change, building on our COP21 brochure on the topic to undertake analysis of country resilience policies, share best practices, and expand modelling analysis on climate change impacts on the energy sector.

The IEA stands ready to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and looks forward to supporting the French and Moroccan governments as we look ahead to COP22 in Marrakesh.


IEA@COP21 Links:


 Press Releases:


  • Publications
    • Links to key publications related to climate change, as well as a catalogue of free publications for download.
  • Policy and Measures (PAMs) Database
    • Database of energy-related policies taken or planned to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency and support renewable energy development and deployment.
  • Statistics
    • Access to paid and free IEA statistics, including data on CO2 emissions.