IEA Ministers confirm commitment to stabilise CO2 emissions and ensure transition to low-carbon economy; welcome closer co-operation with China, India and Russia

(Paris) — 15 October 2009

“The world faces unprecedented economic, environmental and security challenges, all of which relate to energy. Ministers from the 28 member countries of the International Energy Agency and the European Commission have expressed their determination to tackle these challenges together to ensure a more secure, sustainable and clean energy future,” said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), today at the closing of the Agency’s Ministerial meeting in Paris.

“This is a historic moment,” added the Chair of the Ministerial meeting, the Netherlands’ Minister of Economic Affairs Maria van der Hoeven. “Thirty-five years ago, the IEA was founded to provide an effective response to oil supply disruptions and to ensure access to reliable, affordable energy. Today, we chart a course to a low-carbon economy, adequate energy investment and greater global engagement.”

In honour of the 35th anniversary of the IEA, this year’s meeting gathered Ministers and representatives from the 28 IEA member countries, and from China, India and Russia who each have agreed a joint statement with the IEA. These statements open a new phase of even closer co-operation between the IEA and these partner countries. Distinguished guest speakers also took part, such as Dr. Henry Kissinger and Viscount Etienne Davignon, both of whom played essential roles in the creation of the Agency, and Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Ministerial was launched by a joint session with distinguished industry representatives – highlighting that collective solutions to global energy challenges need the involvement of all stakeholders.

Steps to combat climate change, spur low-carbon technology
With around 65% of greenhouse gas emissions deriving from energy use or production, IEA Ministers acknowledged that the cost of inaction on climate change will be greater than the costs of action. They called for international efforts to improve energy efficiency and accelerate RD&D of low-carbon technologies. The Ministers asked the IEA to continue developing technology roadmaps and requested a proposal to create a clean energy technology platform to include non-member countries and international organisations. “In addition, the Ministers agreed to strive to double the level of public-sector investment in energy technology RD&D by 2015, an ambitious but necessary goal,” said Chair Van der Hoeven.

The IEA 450 Scenario from the World Energy Outlook 2009 provides new and useful analytical insights for the critical climate negotiations in Copenhagen and shows that greenhouse gas emissions must begin declining by 2020 if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. Recognising the need and urgency to act, IEA Ministers in their communiqué noted the common goal to stabilise CO2 emissions at 450 parts per million of CO2-equivalent, in line with an increase in global temperature of around 2 degrees C. They also committed to the goal to reduce collective greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries by 80% or more, and to halve them globally by 2050.  “These are both important and vital steps on the way to a broader international climate change agreement in Copenhagen later this year,” explained Mr. Tanaka.

Further strengthening energy security
“Energy security clearly remains a priority for IEA member countries,” noted Chair Van der Hoeven.  Ministers emphasised the important role of well-functioning, transparent energy markets, adequate investment and timely, reliable data and statistics in promoting energy security. While commending the Agency’s oil emergency response capabilities, Ministers resolved to implement IEA recommendations to improve natural gas security. “We welcome the Ministers’ support for a strong IEA role in helping member countries improve their preparedness for potential gas supply disruptions,” stated Mr. Tanaka. Ministers also welcomed IEA analysis of energy subsidies and asked the Agency to assess the impact of market distortions on price volatility.

Importance of investment and engaging the private sector
The transformation of the world energy sector will require enormous investment. “We must use the current economic crisis as an opportunity to invest in cleaner, more secure energy,” said Chair Van der Hoeven. “Recognising that investment shortfalls could have severe consequences for energy security, long-term economic growth and the fight against climate change, IEA member countries have launched stimulus programmes amounting to USD 1.8 trillion with 10% of this spending on average directed at clean energy technologies and energy efficiency. This investment represents an important down-payment on the massive investment required to transform our energy systems in line with IEA proposals for Green Growth,” emphasised Mr. Tanaka.

Because the private sector is generally responsible for a large portion of energy investments, the IEA Energy Business Council – a group of CEOs from energy producing and consuming companies – participated in the opening sessions of the Ministerial meeting and shared views on the role of public-private partnerships in overcoming global energy challenges. Ministers expressed their commitment to develop long-term frameworks, clear and transparent regulation and to reduce non-financial barriers. They also welcomed the agreement of G20 leaders in Pittsburgh to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and their call for the IEA to provide recommendations for implementing this phase-out.

Enhancing co-operation and broadening dialogue
The participation of China, India and Russia in this Ministerial meeting reflects the growing interconnectedness of energy challenges and the need to work for a common and better future for energy security, economic growth and environmental sustainability.

The IEA yesterday agreed Joint Statements with each of these partner countries, outlining broader collaboration and activities with each. “The Joint Statements with China, with India and with Russia are practical, action-oriented and to mutual benefit. They have many common features such as enhanced co-operation on energy security, energy efficiency, renewables, cleaner coal and technology collaboration. The Joint Statements are significant milestones in the co-operation between the IEA and each of these partner countries and we look forward to continued and close collaboration,” explained Mr. Tanaka.

Ministers also agreed that the IEA will organise an international partnership on energy and sustainability meeting between its members and a number of partner countries, to be held in the second half of 2010. In addition, the IEA will establish a training and capacity building programme to deepen the Agency’s global engagement. This will particularly provide for enhanced training opportunities with regard to energy data collection and analysis, energy efficiency, energy technology, energy markets and emergency preparedness. “This project reflects the increasing importance for us to co-operate with countries around the globe.  Our message here is clear: we are serious about working with you,” Mr. Tanaka concluded.

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