IEA: #FixTheWEO or Get out of the Way

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Dear IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol & IEA Governing Board Members:

All IEA member governments have signed the Paris Agreement which strives to limit warming to 1.5˚C. Yet the IEA continues to promote fossil fuel development, which is at odds with what the best available science says is necessary. We need to immediately begin a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry.

The IEA’s World Energy Outlook is used as a guidepost for energy decisions all over the world, but it does not present a pathway to achieving this goal. By focusing on business-as-usual and omitting a robust pathway to 1.5˚C, the IEA is providing cover for dangerous investment in fossil fuels and steering the world towards climate breakdown.

To make matters worse, the IEA has been actively courting the participation of the fossil fuel industry in tackling the climate crisis. We have decades of evidence that the oil, gas, and coal industry are not interested in managing the decline of their own industry and have repeatedly blocked attempts at phasing out fossil fuels. Including the fossil fuel industry "at the table" risks another decade of inaction, which we cannot afford. 

The IEA needs to develop an energy scenario that shows the world how we can limit warming to 1.5˚C and put it front and center in the World Energy Outlook. Making excuses for more fossil fuels like gas, or punting the costs and risks of reducing pollution to our kids doesn’t cut it. We do not have time to waste. Organizations like the IEA must lead or get out of the way.

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    This is the make or break decade for a safer climate future. We’re short on time and institutions like the International Energy Agency are standing in the way of the climate ambition we all know is needed.

    The reason for this is clear: The IEA is being influenced by the fossil fuel industry and by governments (like the Trump Administration in the US) that are doing everything possible to protect Big Oil and Gas.

    At the heart of the problem is the IEA’s World Energy Outlook (WEO), which is seen as the go-to report on the future of energy. It informs countless financial and political decisions on energy. But it’s got a fatal flaw: it centers a scenario that would lead us to a catastrophic 3°C of warming. Even its “climate” scenario has us hitting net-zero emissions 20 years too late.

    Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, continues to push fossil fuel investment (despite the science) and is now doubling down on his industry-friendly approach. Just last week he wrote an op-ed for CNN laying out his vision for a “grand coalition” to reduce emissions. Right now, Fatih’s “grand coalition” includes the very companies that created this mess in the first place.

    Having Big Oil help chart our path out of this crisis is like asking Big Tobacco to run an anti-smoking ad campaign.

    Tell the IEA: Big Oil companies belong in court – not around international policymaking tables.