G20 economies must work together in the transition to a low-carbon future, said Dr Fatih Birol in opening the G20 Energy Ministers Meeting in Beijing on Thursday. Highlighting the goal of the IEA to become a global hub for clean energy, through support for initiatives such as the G20, Mission Innovation, and the Clean Energy Ministerial, Dr Birol noted that “international co-operation is vital for a secure and sustainable energy economy.”
The G20 Energy Ministerial brings together energy ministers and officials from the G20 economies with heads of international energy bodies to discuss shared energy challenges and priorities and provide valuable input to the 2016 G20 Leaders’ Summit. Since 2009, the IEA has actively contributed to all energy work streams of the G20 – a group that accounts for 85% of the global economy and 75% of global energy demand – covering topics ranging from energy security and market transparency, to energy efficiency and the phase out of fossil fuel subsidies. In his keynote address, Dr Birol focused on several G20 energy priorities: enhancing energy access, the transition to a cleaner energy future and the energy sector investment challenge.
Ensuring energy access and meeting expected demand growth “implies a serious investment challenge,” said Dr Birol, noting that a cumulative $68 trillion will be needed across the entire energy sector to 2040, with two-thirds of that needed within G20 economies. Some degree of this investment will be needed to combat air pollution, a serious issue for countries in all regions of the world. Just a 7% increase in investment in the energy sector to 2040 could save three million lives, explained Dr Birol, highlighting a key finding from the IEA’s Special Report on Energy and Air Pollution, launched in London on Monday.
Dr Birol’s speech emphasised the challenge that all countries are facing in meeting climate targets under the Paris Agreement, pointing out that out of all clean energy technologies only electric vehicles, solar PV, and onshore wind are on track for a 2 degree scenario. Meeting climate goals will require countries to work together to share best practices on security of supply, electricity market regulation, and energy efficiency improvements.On the side lines of the Ministerial, Dr Birol took the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with many G20 and observer country Ministers and officials, including Mr Nur Bekri, Director of the National Energy Administration of China.At the close of the Ministerial, G20 Ministers adopted a Communiqué as well as a number of supporting documents on energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy access, all of which reference IEA contributions.