Rapid and widespread changes across all parts of the energy system are needed to ensure a secure and sustainable future for the global population.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published a new report exploring how best to meet climate, energy access and air quality goals whilst delivering reliable and affordable energy supplies.
It suggests if policies remain relatively unchanged, energy demand is forecast to rise by 1.3% a year to 2040, resulting in all aspects of energy markets being strained and a “continued strong upward march” in energy-related emissions.
The report predicts even if current policy intentions and targets are implemented as planned, 2040 will see hundreds of millions of people still without access to electricity, pollution-related premature deaths refusing to fall and carbon dioxide emissions locking in severe climate impacts.
In order to avoid this, the IEA stresses rapid and widespread changes are needed across all parts of the energy system, with multiple fuels and technologies providing efficient and cost-effective energy services in order to deliver sharp emissions reductions.
It adds policymakers must also be aware that new hazards such as cybersecurity and extreme weather will require constant vigilance and notes it is vital to move fast “to keep pace with technological change and the rising need for the flexible operation of power systems”.
Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director, said: “What comes through with crystal clarity in this year’s World Energy Outlook is there is no single or simple solution to transforming global energy systems.
“Many technologies and fuels have a part to play across all sectors of the economy. For this to happen, we need strong leadership from policy makers, as governments hold the clearest responsibility to act and have the greatest scope to shape the future.”