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IEA: Energy crisis can accelerate green transition

October 27, 2022

The International Energy Agency is forecasting a peak for fossil fuel demand, and for global emissions as a result. It could come as early as 2025.

Offshore windmill park with clouds and a blue sky
The energy landscape has changed for decades to come after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the IEA saysImage: picture alliance / Zoonar

The energy crisis triggered by Russia's invasion of Ukraine could transform the global energy landscape for decades and accelerate the transition to renewable energy, the International Energy Agency said on Thursday. 

In its latest annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA said that the energy crisis was "causing profound and long-lasting changes that have the potential to hasten the transition to a more sustainable and secure energy system."

While Russia used to be the largest fossil fuel exporter worldwide, the IEA reported that the country won't be as involved in the global energy supply after its invasion of Ukraine, with its share falling from 20% in 2021 to 13% by 2030.

"Energy markets and policies have changed as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, not just for the time being, but for decades to come," said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

"The energy world is shifting dramatically before our eyes. Government responses around the world promise to make this a historic and definitive turning point towards a cleaner, more affordable and more secure energy system", Birol added.

IEA says global emissions to peak in 2025

In 2021, the IEA had said there was "no clear peak in sight" in energy emissions, but new investments into renewable energy were now leading to a decrease in the demand of all fossil fuels. 

According to its forecast, investments into renewable energy will increase by 50% to $2 trillion per year by 2030.

This meant that a peak — or at least a plateau — for the demand for fossil fuels was in sight for the first time since their modelling started. According to the IEA, after 2025, energy emissions will start to sink. 

The IEA reports that the use of coal is expected to decline in the next few years, while the demand for natural gas will plateau by the end of the decade. 

Oil demand is set to plateau in the middle of the next decade before falling due to the increasing sales of electric vehicles. 

Why is natural gas bad?

What does this mean for climate change predictions? 

The IEA says that its energy forecasts will continue to leave the world on track for a rise in global temperatures of around 2.5 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. This would be likely to have grave impacts such as increased rare weather events, droughts and floods. 

To arrive at zero net emissions in 2050, which is necessary to remain on the 1.5 degree Celsius track, the IEA predicted that clean energy investments need to rise to $4 trillion per year by 2030, instead of the current forecast of $2 trillion.

Claudia Kemfert, an energy economist at the German Institute for Economic Research, told DW in an interview that a doubling of the investment into renewable energy was "feasible." 

She went on to say that governments had to provide the "right frameworks" alongside investment to speed up the transition to renewable energy. This would eliminate "barriers which still exist". 

The situation around energy supply remained "urgent", even though the IEA report could be right about the peak of fossil fuels in 2025. 

los/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)