The International Energy Agency and the Paris Goals

Q&A for investors


The International Energy Agency (IEA) is the world’s most influential provider of energy information. Its flagship World Energy Outlook (WEO) projects energy supply and demand to 2040, under three different scenarios. Investors often use the WEO to assess energy investments.

Contrary to the IEA’s claims, its ‘Sustainable Development Scenario’ (SDS) is not aligned with the Paris goals. Using the SDS (or any other IEA scenario) to assess the climate-robustness of energy investments may understate the degree of transition risk. The SDS does not give a useful guide to the decisions and actions needed to achieve the Paris goals, on either fossil or clean energy.

This briefing compares the SDS only with those scenarios that do not rely on negative emissions to a greater extent than their realistic potential, based on assessments in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent special report. It finds that the SDS is aligned with 2°C of warming; it does not give a guide to aiming “well below” 2°C or “pursuing efforts” for 1.5°C as stated in the Paris goals.

This briefing recommends how investors may help deliver this solution by engaging the IEA.

About our investor briefings

Meeting the objectives of the Paris agreement means that fossil fuel companies will come under increasing pressure from investors concerned about the risks of failing to make the transition to a zero carbon energy future.

Greenpeace has worked to challenge the industry’s business model for over a decade. Our work allows investors to question many of the underlying assumptions of oil industry scenarios and forecasts.

We also examine and interrogate macroeconomic risks as well as technical, legal and regulatory challenges in systemically significant oil projects.

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