Working together to ensure reliable, affordable and clean energy

Sectoral Approaches in Electricity: Building Bridges to a Safe Climate

Sectoral Approaches in Electricity: Building Bridges to a Safe Climate
Download publication

Edition: 2009
186 pages

Addressing climate change requires nothing short of an energy revolution. Electricity, mostly generated from fossil fuels, is at the core of this challenge, accounting for more than 40 % of global energy-related CO2 emissions. This issue is most pressing for developing countries where growth in power demand is particularly high, fueling the risk of irreversible investment in CO2-intensive capacity, the so-called “carbon lock-in”. Addressing climate change requires nothing short of an energy revolution. Electricity, mostly generated from fossil fuels, is at the core of this challenge, accounting for more than 40 % of global energy-related CO2 emissions. This issue is most pressing for developing countries where growth in power demand is particularly high, fueling the risk of irreversible investment in CO2-intensive capacity, the so-called “carbon lock-in”.

Sectoral Approaches in Electricity – Building Bridges to a Safe Climate shows how the international climate policy framework could effectively support a transition towards low-CO2 electricity systems in developing countries. Sectoral approaches are intended to address sectors that require urgent actions, without waiting for countries to take nation-wide commitments.

Once built, power generation capacity lasts for decades. Investing massively in CO2-intensive technologies to meet surging electricity demand will either make it impossible or overly costly to stabilise CO2 concentrations at sustainable levels. The technology mix needed to avoid such a development is clear: higher generation efficiency, CO2 capture and storage, nuclear and renewables. Earlier IEA publications have extensively reviewed developed countries’ efforts to steer generation away from carbon-intensive production modes, from dedicated support to low-carbon technologies to, increasingly, the reliance on CO2 pricing via emissions trading. Following the same logic, there are proposals seeking to use the international carbon market to drive changes at sectoral level in developing countries. This publication illustrates the pros and cons of such an approach in a few key emerging economies. It also asks how international climate policy could support and enhance ongoing efforts on end-use energy efficiency - an essential piece of the climate change/electricity puzzle.