Greenpeace responds to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2009

IEA offers no comprehensive concept to fight catastrophic climate change

Press release - 10 November, 2009
Greenpeace welcomes the International Energy Agency’s call for action to make the upcoming climate conference in Copenhagen a success - and its warning that delaying climate actions will cost $500 billion US dollars every year - following today’s publication of its World Energy Outlook 2009.

It is now clear that an unchanged energy policy - the IEA's 'business as usual' scenario - will lead to catastrophic climate impacts and a temperature rise of about 6°C. While the IEA's rhetoric on climate change improves every year, it still offers no solution. The proposed energy mix in the IEA's 'climate scenario' - the 450ppm scenario - continues to rely on unproven technology, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) for coal-fired power stations, and nuclear power.

"This is a missed opportunity to put a real concept for tackling climate change on the table in time for the Copenhagen climate summit," said Sven Teske, Greenpeace International's Senior Energy Expert. "In failing to shift technology recommendations from unproven, dangerous and expensive technologies such as CCS and nuclear power plants towards new renewable energy sources, the IEA falls short of promoting a real energy revolution."

The latest version of Greenpeace's 'Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable World Energy Outlook', produced in conjunction with the European Renewable Energy Council, shows how renewable energy, combined with greater energy efficiency, can reduce global energy-related CO2 emissions from today's 28 billion tonnes to 20.9 billion tonnes by 2030 - half of the emissions from the IEA's reference scenario in the same year. Using the same assumptions for economic growth, fuel costs and population development as the IEA, the Greenpeace scenario also includes long-term projections to 2050 - with a 50% CO2 cut and a complete fossil fuel phase-out by 2090.

Key Differences:

•    The most ambitious (450 ppm) IEA scenario results in an emissions peak by 2020. The Energy [R]evolution scenario achieves the 2015 peak that the UN International Panel on Climate Change says is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change.

•    The most ambitious IEA scenario brings emissions from energy use down to 26.4 gigatonnes per year in 2030. The Energy [R]evolution reduces these emissions by a further 20%, 20.9 gigatonnes per year, almost half the business as usual emissions.

•    The most ambitious IEA scenario relies on unsustainable nuclear power and unproven CCS technology. The Energy [R]evolution phases out nuclear power and incorporates only proven technologies.

•    Energy demand for power generation in the most ambitious IEA scenario and the Energy [R]evolution is almost the same, but the Energy [R]evolution shows that energy demand for the heating, transport and industry sectors could be 11.5% lower.

Key Issues:

•    There are currently no commercial CCS plants operating or planned, yet the IEA believes two to three coal-fired power plants equipped with CCS will be brought online every month between now and 2030. 

•    The projected uptake of nuclear energy in the alternative IEA scenarios is equally unrealistic, requiring the grid connection of a new nuclear reactor every month until 2030, a volume far beyond the nuclear industry's capacity.

Other contacts: Sven Teske, Greenpeace International renewable energy campaign, +31 621 29 68 94Alexandra Dawe, Greenpeace International communications officer, +31 629 00 11 46Greenpeace international Press Desk, +31 20 718 24 70

Notes: • Copies of the “Energy [R]evolution: A sustainable World Energy Outlook” report can be downloaded from: • The report, published on 27 October 2008, provides a practical blueprint for rapidly cutting energy-related CO2 emissions in order to help ensure that greenhouse gas emissions peak and then fall by 2015. This can be achieved while ensuring economies in China, India and other developing nations have access to the energy that they need to develop. • The report was developed in conjunction with specialists from the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the Dutch Institute Ecofys and more than 40 scientists and engineers from universities, institutes and the renewable energy industry around the world. • The Energy [R]evolution adds detailed analysis of the potential for energy efficiency, future transport systems such as electric cars and a financial analysis of the power sector. • The report provides a comprehensive global energy concept which gives a detailed analysis of how to restructure the global energy system based on a detailed regional assessment for the potential of proven renewable energy sources, energy efficiency and the utilisation of efficient decentralised cogeneration. The Energy [R]evolution Scenario is compared to the ‘business as usual’ scenario provided by the International Energy Association’s breakdown of 10 world regions as used in the ongoing series of World Energy Outlook reports.