Climate and energy ministers commit to accelerating transition to clean energy at IEA meeting

Ministers at Paris meeting strongly endorse plans to scale back fossil fuel use

Efforts to accelerate a global transition to clean energy while scaling back fossil fuel use have been strongly endorsed at a meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris.

Energy and climate ministers from close to 50 countries, including Ireland, which represent almost 80 per cent of global energy consumption, issued a commitment on Wednesday “to safeguard energy security while speeding up clean energy transitions to keep the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees within reach”.

The ministers agreed that “no new unabated coal power plant should be built” and “declines in [fossil fuel] demand are sufficiently steep that no new long lead-time conventional oil and gas projects are required”.

IEA director Fatih Birol said: “The IEA has received clear mandates from its members. We will redouble our efforts to lead the fight against climate change in the energy sector, while ensuring the security of global energy supplies and working to increase energy access throughout the transition.”


This builds on the outcome of Cop28 in December and is likely to form a key element in negotiations at G7 and G20 summits attended by leaders from the largest economies later this year.

Ministers directed the IEA to take a leading role in ensuring implementation of the Cop28 outcomes and “to continue to track and report our delivery against key commitments, identifying barriers to progress, and providing members and the wider global community with recommendations on how to accelerate our national secure, clean energy transitions”.

Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said the world is at a pivotal moment where the IEA is best placed to provide the necessary data and transparency while pointing the direction of travel in transforming the world’s energy system.

“Unless we change our entire energy system in the next two decades completely our future risks going in a deeply disruptive direction,” said the Green Party leader, who co-chaired the IEA meeting. “That’s our North Star. It would deliver an energy transition of such scale that it provides security for all the people of the world.”

German climate envoy Jennifer Morgan said the communique was a global plan of action building on the Cop28 goals “that we all agreed to” in transitioning away from fossil fuels, tripling renewables and doubling energy efficiency.

She said it would help stabilise the planet “so we don’t have a world where extreme weather events are happening every year that we just can’t handle, [including] the costs to our economies”.

Critical to its success, Ms Morgan said, would be a people-focused just transition with new forms of partnerships with communities; independent monitoring of progress and building skills and capacity. Every country had to enhance their “nationally determined contributions” for this collective effort, which she described as “investment plans for the future”.

Minister Ryan described the agreement as a historic shift because it recognises the green energy transition is “unstoppable” and commits to bringing to an end to new, unabated coal plants and long lead-time oil and gas exploration. This outcome was “a key stepping stone towards a clean, green energy future”, he said.

The ministers agreed $4.5 trillion per year was required by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, and asked the IEA to continue to work with key international financial institutions to remove barriers to investment. “We underline the IEA’s analysis that clean energy investment in emerging markets and developing economies will need to more than triple to $2.2-2.8 trillion per year by the early 2030s.”

“We have to ensure everyone is involved in this transition. We cannot divide on climate and we cannot afford to freeze out or ignore the needs of emerging and developing countries, particularly when it comes to climate and energy finance. This transition has to be people-centred and just, and it has to be undertaken at scale,” Mr Ryan said at a media briefing.

It was time to “get down to business now” on delivering on these commitments over the coming two years, he said.

He urged that they would be embedded and further developed at upcoming global events, including the G7 in Italy, the G20 in Brazil and the next COPs – in Baku this year, and particularly Brazil in 2025.

The climate and energy ministers acknowledged “the threat posed by Russia’s war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East” and the need to marshal the global energy sector’s fight against climate change and to boost global financial flows for clean energy transitions – especially in emerging and developing economies.

Canadian energy minister Jonathan Wilkinson said: “The battle against climate change and focus on the energy transition cannot be won simply through fear. It has to be one through a focus on opportunity, and opportunity related to building a prosperous future for people in all parts of the world.”

The climate threat at times left people feeling afraid and sceptical about a brighter future, he noted. “By working together, we can pursue a thoughtful set of solutions and strategies that will help people be more optimistic about what the future can hold for their children and their grandchildren. And ensure that there is an inclusive approach that creates opportunities for prosperity for communities and for workers.”

Polish minister for the environment Krzysztof Bolesta said they “have all agreed there is a way to use the clean energy transformation while also improving energy security”. But he warned: “We need to put people in the centre. We need to keep them on side otherwise, if we lose them, then the transformation will fail – and also climate action.”

Regarding the switch to clean energy, Mr Bolesta said: “We cannot afford changing one dependency today on fossil fuels into another on critical materials.”

He said trust plays an important role when undergoing energy transformation. “You need to trust your neighbours ... we do it very well in the EU. If you feel that you can get your energy supplies from trusted suppliers, then your energy transformation becomes much easier and much more cost efficient.”

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Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times