Diagnosing a Problem is half the solution: IEA Brings Real Meaning to Sustainable Development

“We are not on a sustainable energy path unless we make considerable changes,” said Robert Priddle, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). A secure supply of energy to underpin essential economic activity and provide services to society is essential if sustainable development is to be achieved.

With its long-standing expertise and knowledge of the energy sector, the IEA brings hard facts and tangible thinking to the debate in Johannesburg. It quantifies the issues and supplies future projections. It provides diagnostic tools and a framework for informed decisions, enabling governments and other important actors to formulate well-based policy.

The IEA has identified eight areas where action must be taken in order to guarantee the world a sustainable energy future:

  • energy security
  • greater efficiency in the use of energy,
  • greater use of renewable energies
  • improving the way energy markets work
  • enhancing the role of technology and research to provide clean and cost-effective energy
  • addressing health, environment and safety concerns
  • increasing access to energy
  • developing sustainable transportation systems

Increasing access to energy is an especially high priority in the sustainable development debate. 1.6 billion people today have no access to electricity. 2.4 billion rely on primitive biomass for cooking and heating. In the absence of radical new policies, 1.4 billion will still have no electricity in 30 years time. This is one of the major findings of “Energy & Poverty”, a ground-breaking new study by the IEA showing the magnitude and future trends in the vicious circle of energy and poverty. The objective of this analysis is to provide hard information about global poverty and energy use, seeking, through greater precision, to contribute to better solutions. The study points to the enormous new investments needed to supply energy to growing economies.

Sustainable transportation systems are essential, since transport is the fastest-growing use of energy worldwide. Rapidly increasing populations and vehicle usage have created gridlock and sprawl, as well as exceptionally high levels of air pollution, noise and accident rates. But there are solutions. A new IEA publication, Bus Systems for the Future, Achieving Sustainable Transport Worldwide, shows how new bus transit systems can revolutionize urban travel.

Through the Climate Technology Initiative (CTI), the IEA Member countries work to enable developing countries and transition economies to adopt clean technologies and best practices. This is sustainable development in action. The CTI assists countries to assess their technology needs and to design and implement co-operative technology plans. It also supports training and capacity-building programmes.

Improving the security of energy supply and making modern forms of energy available to all, while achieving environmental progress, is crucial to sustainable development. They can be, and must be, made compatible. The International Energy Agency provides a valuable bridge between these concerns. “We believe that energy supplies are secure only so long as they are produced and used in an environmentally-sensitive manner,” said Robert Priddle.

To learn about this and other IEA work, you are invited to a press conference at Level -2, Main Press Centre, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg at 10AM on Wednesday 28 August.