WEO workshop looks at what energy sector can do soon to limit climate change

12 March 2013

IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol at the workshop. © OECD/IEA, 2013

More than 75 leaders in government, international organisations, industry, the finance and reinsurance sectors and academia gathered at the Paris headquarters of the IEA on Friday, 8 March, to offer insights and information for the World Energy Outlook 2013’s special report on the key issues, risks and uncertainties for the energy sector in relation to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The special report, to be released on Monday, 10 June in London, will look at the short-term measures necessary in the changing global energy map to limit the average rise in global temperatures to no more than 2°Celsius. It also will examine how development of low-carbon energy sources may strand some fossil-fuel investments.

The energy sector is the largest source of global carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions, with transport and the generation of electricity and heat alone responsible for nearly two thirds of energy-related CO2 emissions, and so is crucial to making meaningful progress on climate change. The World Energy Outlook 2012 concluded that emissions in its central scenario are consistent with a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6°C and that the climate goal of limiting warming to 2°C is becoming more difficult and more costly with each passing year.

IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol opened the invitation-only workshop by explaining the working plan for the special report. The first discussion focused on the growing disconnect between scientific needs and policy and market action. The second looked at which investments in fossil fuel reserves and related energy infrastructure may exceed the level that is justified under a 2°C climate trajectory, highlighting the potential risk of stranded energy assets.

The two afternoon sessions addressed future policies for action by the energy sector and what adaption would be needed in the energy sector to adapt to hidden costs of climate change.

The discussions were held under the Chatham House Rule, which fosters free exchange of ideas and maximum possible input for the special report. The rule allows use of information shared at the workshop but bars identifying any participant or his or her affiliation.