Spotlight on the UN Climate Talks in Copenhagen

11 December 2009

Implementing energy efficiency is key to a sustainable energy future. At the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, IEA experts will present the results from recent studies and provide details on the necessary steps for capturing the huge potential of energy efficiency to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. IEA analysis identifies that 57% of cost-effective GHG abatement potential should come from energy efficiency. Governments around the world have committed to actively improve their energy efficiency. Moreover IEA member countries have committed to “work with government authorities at all levels within [their] countries to ensure a co-ordinated, efficient approach to promoting energy efficiency”. In light of this, the IEA assists governments by identifying emerging challenges, recommending policy priorities and assisting countries in the policy implementation process. For example, the IEA has played a central role in addressing standby power and the phase out of inefficient incandescent light bulbs. The IEA has also developed a set of 25 energy efficiency policy recommendations, which implemented globally could save 8.2GtCO2 yearly by 2030. The IEA has evaluated the level of implementation of these recommendations in IEA member countries.\

Renewable Energy Critical to Climate Change Mitigation: : To highlight the important role that renewable energy must play in achieving climate change mitigation objectives, the IEA will present key findings from its scenario analysis and energy technology roadmaps on the margins of the UN climate conference in Copenhagen at three separate side events: IEA Sustainable Energy Policy and Technology Day (16 December), the World Energy Outlook 2009 briefing (17 December) and the IRENA-REN21 joint event with the IEA, IEA Renewable Energy Technology Deployment Implementing Agreement, European Renewable Energy Council and Greenpeace (15 December).  According to the World Energy Outlook 2009, renewable energy will be the second largest contributor -- after energy efficiency -- to the reduction of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2030, accounting for abatement of more than 3.1 Gt/yr (23% of the total CO2 reductions needed to be on the path towards stabilisation of CO2 concentration at levels to hold global long-term temperature increase to 2 degrees C). The increasing role of renewables will be particularly significant in the power sector. IEA experts will explain in detail what steps will be necessary to achieve full renewable potential.

Energy Technology Roadmaps: The climate change negotiations have focused on creation, expansion and improvement of the global carbon market through mechanisms such as cap-and-trade and sectoral approaches. In order to achieve these climate change goals, however, a number of key low-carbon technologies -- including carbon capture and storage, sustainable biofuels, offshore wind energy, advanced solar energy, electric vehicles and fully integrated energy efficiency – need to be rapidly developed, demonstrated and commercialised. To provide strategic guidance for advancing these and other technologies, the IEA is developing a series of Energy Technology Roadmaps. Each roadmap contiains technology-specific analysis of investment needs, policy frameworks, technology development and public engagement milestones and actions that will be necessary for the technology to deliver on its low-carbon potential by 2050. This input will supplement and provide important input to negotiators at Copenhagen as they attempt to develop the optimal solution for climate and energy policies. For more information click here.

Carbon Market Mechanisms in Copenhagen: The Copenhagen negotiations will address the issue of the expansion of the carbon market. The international carbon market as we know it today has triggered an impressive number of projects that lower emissions in developing countries – with credits to be used by Kyoto Protocol parties to help achieve their emission commitments. In spite of progress to date, there is wide recognition that such efforts need up-scaling if we are to stabilise climate, either through sectoral or policy-based carbon market mechanisms – this evolution will not be without challenges. The IEA and OECD provide critical analysis of these options in preparation of Copenhagen talks, in support of the Annex I Expert Group on the UNFCCC.

Sectoral Approaches in Electricity: Electricity is the largest, fastest growing emitter of energy-related CO2. Urgent action is needed to curb the growth in power-related CO2 emissions in the developing world. Sectoral Approaches in Electricity documents the danger of carbon lock-in in power generation and explains how the new climate policy options for discussion in Copenhagen can address this problem – on the supply and demand side of electricity. The IEA presented its recommendations on this topic to participants in the Barcelona UNFCCC meeting. 

IEA welcomes US and Chinese CO2 targets: The IEA welcomes the recent announcements made by the US and Chinese governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions, recognising these as key steps to get a global, meaningful agreement in Copenhagen. Both of these announced targets are in line with the World Energy Outlook 2009 450 Scenario, that aims to limit the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million of carbon-dioxide equivalent – in line with keeping the global temperature rise to around 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The US target of cutting greenhouse gases by 17% in 2020 versus 2005 compares with the projected CO2 reduction of 18% domestically in the WEO 450 Scenario. The Chinese intensity targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 45% by 2020 versus 2005 compares with a 47% suggested improvement in the 450 Scenario.

At the IEA Ministerial meeting in October, a large majority of Ministers showed their intention to take the lead, organise themselves and commit to the challenge to reach the 450 Scenario - the energy path of Green Growth. Details of the Scenario analysis and its implications on energy sector for the United States, China and other key economies, as well as required investments, were released at the UNFCCC meeting in October in Bangkok, a fundamental session in the run-up to Copenhagen, to inform negotiators on the changes needed in the energy sector.