IEA strengthens clean energy commitments after investor criticism

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published its first communique in a decade, covering topics including the clean energy transition, after a meeting with world leaders at COP25 in Madrid.

Pictured: Attendees at the IEA's two-day meeting at COP25, during which, the communique was produced. Image: IEA 

Pictured: Attendees at the IEA's two-day meeting at COP25, during which, the communique was produced. Image: IEA 

The communique was co-signed by the IEA and its 30 member organisations, alongside policymakers from Poland, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, Chile, Lithuania, Colombia and Senegal, on Sunday (8 December).

Following criticisms of the methodology behind the IEA’s World Energy Outlook – and the forecast’s implications for clean energy policy and industry – the communique commits the IEA to playing a “central role” in bridging the gaps between policy intentions and real-world impact.

It instructs the IEA’s Secretariat to further strengthen work to “support decision-makers on how to accelerate low-emission solutions and promote clean, sustainable, affordable, resilient and safe energy technologies for reaching both near and long-term objectives”.

The communique additionally binds the Secretariat to supporting decision-makers in policy and business to develop and deploy emerging low-and zero-emissions technologies; and to “deepening” the work of the IEA’s Energy Efficiency Hub.

However, the communique stops short of full-on alignment with the Paris Agreement – a move which 65 finance bodies across the globe were hoping for.

"We acknowledge the importance of climate protection and the commitment to the Paris Agreement from those countries that chose to implement it, noting recent G20 communiqués in that regard,” it states.

In light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark report of warming of 1.5C and 2C, the IEA has been facing calls to outline how the global energy sector could align with a 1.5C trajectory, and support nations and businesses to make this shift. But the body still includes several higher-carbon pathways, in which fossil fuels continue to account for large proportions of the global energy mix, in its forecasts. The IEA has also faced criticism in recent months for its support of nuclear power.

In response to these concerns, the IEA’s executive director Dr Fatih Birol had already promised that the body will prioritise “evolutions” will take into account “evolutions” within the science, technology, policy and finance spaces as it prepares to deliver its 2020 forecasts. The communique appears to be an extension of this commitment.

Sarah George


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