Monday, 12 November 2012 — The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) flagship report, the World Energy Outlook (WEO) 2012, publishes a wealth of data and analysis vital to those seeking to deliver the three interlinked objectives of Sustainable Energy for All.

For more than a decade, the WEO has published analysis on modern energy access for the poor. WEO-2012 finds that, despite some positive progress, 1.3 billion people still do not have access to electricity and 2.6 billion people do not have access to clean cooking facilities. Its Outlook for 2030 is brighter than last year, but still shows that the world is far from being on track to deliver universal access by that date. The report also presents an Energy Development Index (EDI)) for 80 countries, to aid policymakers in tracking progress towards providing modern energy access. It reveals a broad improvement in recent years but shows that sub-Saharan Africa scores least well as a region.

WEO-2012 has a special focus on energy efficiency, showing that if the world got serious about energy efficiency, it could halve global energy demand growth and reduce oil demand by the equivalent of Russia and Norway’s combined production today. The WEO also finds that renewables have cemented their position as an indispensable part of our global energy system and are expected to continue to grow rapidly, becoming the world’s second-largest source of power generation by 2015.

Rapid future increases in renewable energy are underpinned by falling technology costs, rising fossil-fuel prices and carbon pricing, but mainly by continued subsidies. Even with this strong growth, the central scenario of WEO 2012 finds that energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions correspond to a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6 °C — well in excess of a 2 °C climate goal.

The overarching message of WEO-2012 is a sobering one: even taking all new positive developments into account, the world is still failing to put the global energy system onto a sustainable path — highlighting the need for greater action if the world wants to achieve energy access, energy security and climate goals.