The International Energy Agency reiterated on Wednesday how important energy is to any accord delegates reach at the UN climate talks in Paris, particularly to break the long link between economic growth and rising greenhouse gas emissions.“Any agreement in Paris must have energy at its core – otherwise it risks to be a failure,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said at a press conference on 9 December, the day after he challenged the plenary session of the negotiations to elevate energy from the leading cause of climate change to the leading solution.
Speaking after a new study in Nature magazine reinforced the IEA preliminary finding early this year that energy-related carbon dioxide emissions did not increase in 2014 despite economic expansion, Dr. Birol said, “We expect Paris to signal a happy divorce between economic growth and emissions increases.”In its four key messages for the talks, the IEA has urged delegates to focus on putting the energy sector on a course to a low-carbon future, a call Dr. Birol echoed on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
“COP21 is a critical and necessary step in ongoing and increasing global efforts to decarbonise the energy sector and limit global warming,” he told the press conference, adding, “It will be a historic mistake to lessen energy efficiency’s and renewable energy’s support as the price of fossil fuels declines.”
Dr. Birol emphasised the need for an accord to set a long-term goal on collective greenhouse gas emissions: “This will be essential for providing a clear signal to investors that the future lies in a low-carbon energy system.” And after COP21, progress must be re-examined before 2020 to find ways more can be done, particularly through use of new energy technologies. “This is where the IEA can play an important role,” he said, given the Agency’s more than 40 years of experience, particularly in assisting multilateral technology collaboration in energy innovation.
Finally, Dr. Birol noted that more than 1.3 billion people still lack access to modern energy, further reason to pursue clean-energy technologies so they too can enjoy economic development without raising global temperatures.