Who are the IEA and why does this matter?

The international energy agency (IEA) reports are often pivotal in shaping world government and industry decisions. The report is significant because the IEA was set up after the 1973 oil shock to stabilise wealthy countries’ access to the oil markets. Since that time the international energy outlooks produced by the agency have consistently been used as a justification for oil expansion by the fossil fuel industry- and the reports have consistently underestimated the potential of solar & wind. But now, the organisation that was created to stabilise the oil markets, is saying there is no need for new fossil fuel investment.

What are the top takeaways?

  • The report says we need to stop NEW fossil fuel projects and investment, but this does not go far enough, to stay within 1.5 pathways we need to stop approved and expansion projects as well. The only climate compatible strategy for oil and gas producers is managed decline.
  •  Most scenarios, including this report are heavily dependent on the role carbon capture and storage could play. Yet CCS is still an unproven technology and if it turns out it doesn’t work then to stay at 1.5 there will be need a faster shut down of oil and gas fields.
  • The UK government has the presidency of the G7 and COP26 this year and commissioned and endorsed the report.  But not everyone loves the report, Japan and Australia for example have refused to endorse the findings.
  • The publication of this report means the oil and gas industry has lost a powerful shield. Big Oil and Gas companies and the governments of fossil fuel-producing countries have lost one of their key covers for claiming that developing new oil and gas reserves is fully consistent with their commitments to “net zero” or the Paris Agreement

What happens now?

Game on:  Last week’s report was a testament to the years and years of pressure from climate advocates, investors, businesses, diplomats, and the people power that have been demanding for years to keep fossil fuels in the ground, but there is still a long way to go. 2021 is a huge year for the climate – world leaders need to step up. The global climate crisis, much like the ongoing, global health crisis, can only be addressed through a strong collective response from governments around the world. 

If we have learned anything from the last 18 months of COVID-19, it’s that when they want to, rich governments can take urgent action and mobilise trillions of dollars, but sometimes it takes us to remind them. 

So here are the next steps;

First of all: We need to address vaccine inequality because without that there is no climate justice.

One of the very real impacts of global inequality is that people who are not vaccinated, cannot participate in important climate events like the UN climate change conference (COP26) due to take place in November- which means the voices of those most impacted will be missing. 

In June the G7 will meet in Cornwall, 350.org and many other organisations are calling on the world’s richest countries to end vaccine inequality through a campaign called the people’s vaccine – we need as many people as possible to call out the G7.  To take action- find out more on the people’s vaccine website 

End fossil finance: The IEA report says there can be no new fossil fuels which means there can be no more funding of fossil fuels. 350.org is campaigning against central and private banks to get out of fossil fuels.  This has to happen now to show that we are serious about staying at 1.5. We are seeing the impacts that people’s pressure is putting on those central banks, but it needs more of us and we need to campaign everywhere. You can find out more information here about our finance campaigns

Keep it in the Ground: Across the globe, grassroots organisations are campaigning against the development of fossil fuel infrastructure.  Campaigns in Africa include Stop EACOP, (East African Crude Oil Pipeline)  No oil exploration in Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the CoalFreeNigeria network. In Canada there are three major ongoing pipeline fights in Canada (line 3, line 5, expansion in tar sands.) Indigenous and climate activists are resisting oil and gas exploration in the Amazon, being perpetuated by European oil and gas giants, Shell, BP and Total. In Asia organisations are working to stop the development of coal fired power stations in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. In the US, activists are urging the Biden administration to standby his pre-election climate promises and stop the building of destructive pipelines. 

This week, beginning 24th of May we have seen a raft of victories, from a landmark ruling handed down by a Dutch court meaning that Shell needs reduce emissions 45% by 2030, to the election of two climate activists to Exxons board of directors, to Chevron’s shareholder meeting, where 61% of shareholders voted for the company to reduce its “Scope 3” emissions, meaning the pollution from all the fossil fuels it sells. 

A just transition:  To get to where we need to be, it means equal access across the world. Global justice needs to be at the heart of decision-making, so that countries in the global north account for their historic and ongoing role in exploiting communities and resources across the world. That means ensuring access to finance and climate technology for countries in the global south so that renewable energy is accessible to all. 

We need to keep the pressure up and demand that governments invest in accessible energy for all,  that supports public and social ownership and benefit for communities, and ensure that workers have fair pay, and secure, green jobs 

Since 350.org started 12 years ago, we have seen what the power of people joining together to take action can make. There are more of us now than there was 12 years ago, but to change everything we need everybody. 

That’s why we would love you to get involved, find or set up a local group and start taking action, we have a link here where you can find out more https://350.org/get-involved/ 


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