IEA Day at COP21 caps Agency’s busy schedule at climate talks

3 December 2015

Director of Sustainable Energy Policy and Technology Kamel Ben Naceur assesses the impact of national climate pledges on both global warming and the energy sector during IEA Day at COP21.

The International Energy Agency had a banner day at the UN climate talks on 3 December.

Executive Director Fatih Birol opened IEA Day at the COP21 negotiations in Paris before delegates, journalists and officials. Five sessions over the course of the day drew hundreds seeking IEA insight on subjects ranging from how to halt growth in greenhouse gas emissions to detailed analysis of national climate pledges.

In his introduction, Dr. Birol presented the Agency’s key messages for COP21, detailing how the IEA can help countries develop low-carbon energy sectors. The four key messages call for a Paris accord whose short-term actions fit with long-term emission goals; adoption of actions that can freeze energy emissions by 2020; greater energy innovation; and increased energy-sector resilience to the effects of climate change.

The five sessions opened with an update on IEA analysis of the climate pledges more than 150 countries delivered before the start of the Paris talks. Building on a World Energy Outlook Special Briefing on the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), Director of Sustainable Energy Policy and Technology Kamel Ben Naceur detailed the pledges’ impacts on the energy sector as well as global warming.

Then the IEA presented its five key actions to peak global energy emissions. Along with representatives from the Environmental Defence Fund and the Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group, Agency experts detailed how increased energy efficiency, phasing out least-efficient coal-fired power plants, investing more in renewables, ending fossil-fuel subsidies and cutting methane emissions can limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.

The next session described how best to speed development of low-carbon technologies, including greater collaboration between emerging and OECD countries, a cornerstone of the IEA modernisation introduced by Dr. Birol. Marie Donnelly, the European Commission’s Director for New and Renewable Sources of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Innovation, joined experts from across the IEA to explore paths to improve technologies as well as lower costs.

Industry participants from Africa and Asia joined the IEA for the fourth session, “Using the Paris agreement to drive short-term actions consistent with long-term emission goals.” They focused on the need for five-year review cycles to be part of a climate accord so countries can regularly measure progress on short-term targets as well as keep oriented towards longer-term transformation of the energy sector.

The final session looked at what the energy sector must do to improve resilience to the effects of climate change. Not only does more extreme weather threaten infrastructure like offshore oil platforms, but more droughts from global warming can create water stress, affecting hydropower and limiting resources for drilling.

Even before IEA Day, the IEA was busy at COP21. Besides presenting its findings and analysis to negotiators, reporters and investors at numerous events as soon as the talks opened on 30 November, the IEA drew more than 100 delegates to hear 17 speakers at its 1 December event “Energy Efficient Prosperity”, plus scores more attended the next day’s panel discussion events “Making the Energy Sector More Resilient to Climate Change” and “Scaling Up Renewables: implications for energy security, electricity market design, and industry”. To view all upcoming IEA events at COP21, which is scheduled to end on 11 December, please click here

Photo: © OECD/IEA, 2015, by George Kamiya