The World's Energy and Climate Goals
Updated: Jul 19
Energy security and climate change are the dual concerns of international energy and climate policy.
Addressing climate change in the 21st century is of paramount importance, and its effects are already evident today. At the heart of this global climate dialogue is energy - more precisely, the impact of energy production and consumption on climate, and the implications for the energy sector as a consequence of climate change.
Energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around two-thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions. Promoting sustainable development and combating climate change have therefore become integral aspects of energy planning, analysis and policymaking. With that in mind, policymakers around the world are seeking to combine energy security goals with the adoption of clean energy technologies.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) defines energy security as the uninterrupted availability of energy sources at an affordable price. Now, long-term energy security goals align the timely supply of energy to limit global warming and other environmental concerns.
Global commitment to action
The Paris Agreement
The historic Paris Agreement concluded at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in 2015 signified the pinnacle of global efforts to mitigate climate change. This was the first-ever universal and legally binding climate deal that aims to limit the global average temperature rise this century to below 2 degrees Celsius - ideally to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The UN Climate Change Conference COP 25
In this UN conference held in 2019, crucial climate action work was taken forward in areas including finance, the transparency of climate action, forests and agriculture, technology, capacity building, loss and damage, indigenous peoples, cities, oceans and gender. Furthermore, the conference served to build ambition ahead of 2020, the year in which countries had committed to submit new and updated national climate action plans.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy
As is clear from its mission statement, SDG 7 centres on the concept of ‘sustainable energy security. The IEA is at the helm of global efforts to meet the targets of SDG 7, which are:
By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services
By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology
By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all
SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
In 2020, greenhouse gas emissions witnessed a welcome drop, but that was due to travel restrictions and economic slowdowns following the pandemic.
However, the crisis has urged countries to build back better – in ways that are cleaner, safer and more resilient for both people and the planet. As an additional boost, the United Nations (UN) proposed six climate-positive actions as part of SDG 13 for governments to incorporate into their economic recovery plans that seek to reverse the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere:
Green transition: Investments must accelerate the de-carbonization of all aspects of our economy.
Green jobs and sustainable and inclusive growth
Green economy: making societies and people more resilient through a fair transition to all and leaves no one behind.
Invest in sustainable solutions: fossil fuel subsidies must end and polluters must pay for their pollution.
Confront all climate risks
Cooperation: no country can succeed alone.
Net Zero by 2050
The IEA is leading a growing global focus on reaching net-zero emissions by the year 2050. According to IEA’s special report – Net-Zero by 2050: a Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector – the path to net-zero requires an unparalleled transformation of how energy is produced, transported and used globally.
The Roadmap lays down more than 400 milestones on the way to achieving net-zero which include completely cutting off investment in new fossil fuel projects and new coal plants. Annual additions of solar PV are expected to reach 630 GW by 2030 and wind power to reach 390 GW. By 2035, there are no sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars. A major worldwide push to increase energy efficiency combined with incentives to accelerate innovation also form an essential part of these efforts.
While more and more countries will continue to announce pledges to achieve net-zero emissions over the coming years, action must start now to reach our long-term energy and climate goals. Governments need to implement policies that put global emissions into sustained decline. And they need to do that quickly.
The first fuel for a sustainable global energy system
Energy Efficiency 2020, the latest issue of IEA’s annual report on global trends in energy efficiency highlights the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic through analysis of energy data, policies and technology improvements. Although the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed down progress in global energy efficiency efforts, this ‘first fuel’ remains by far our key asset for economic and sustainable development across all nations.
In the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario, energy efficiency alone renders more than 40% of the reduction in energy-related greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 years. There lies a huge scope for energy efficiency in buildings, industrial processes, and transportation that could cut down the world’s energy needs in 2050 by one-third.
Lovin's Rocky Mountain Institute points out that in industrial settings, "there are abundant opportunities to save 70% to 90% of the energy and cost for lighting, fan, and pump systems; 50% for electric motors; and 60% in areas such as heating, cooling, office equipment, and appliances."
Implications for India
India’s energy choices matter. They have direct and far-reaching effects on the lives of a growing population, and major indirect effects on the rest of the world through their impact on energy markets, emissions, and flows of technology and capital. Deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and technological diversification of energy sources, would result in significant energy security and economic benefits.
The Energy World is changing, with new digital technologies enabling greater control, optimization and analytics to improve energy efficiency and management for a better future. A transition of such scale and speed cannot be achieved without sustained support and participation from you. Be a part of the change with us.