International Energy Agency Releases World Energy Outlook 2021

On October 13, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its flagship annual report, the World Energy Outlook 2021. The report comes on the heels of the upcoming COP26 Climate Change Conference in November in Glasgow, Scotland, which HRAI reported on in the previous edition of the newsletter.

The IEA is a Paris-based intergovernmental organization composed of 30 member states, of which Canada is a founding member. Created in 1974 during the 1973-1974 oil crisis, the IEA today recommends policies to member states across a wide-spectrum of major global energy issues, including renewables, fossil fuel supply and demand, energy efficiency, clean energy technologies, and energy security, among others.   

The World Energy Outlook 2021 report (WEO-2021, argues that advances in renewables and clean energy technologies around the world are creating a new global energy economy. The problem, however, is that while these technologies are helping to reduce the impact of human activity on the climate, the progress of this growing market “is still far too slow to put global emissions into sustained decline towards net zero.”

The goal of net-zero emissions is the key long-term objective of the Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to achieve a climate neutral world by 2050. Given current trends, the WEO-2021 argues that what is needed now is “an unmistakable signal of ambition and action from governments in Glasgow.”

Despite the pledges made by countries around the world when they signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, the report notes that there are “stark warnings about the direction in which today’s policy settings are taking the world.” Growing levels of global coal consumption, for example, are helping push carbon dioxide emissions “towards their second largest annual increase in history.”

“The world’s hugely encouraging clean energy momentum is running up against the stubborn incumbency of fossil fuels in our energy systems,” said Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA. “Governments need to resolve this at COP26” by demonstrating “that they are committed to rapidly scaling up the clean and resilient technologies of the future. The social and economic benefits of accelerating clean energy transitions are huge, and the costs of inaction are immense.”

The report sets out what these actions to accelerate the ambitious targets of the Paris Climate Agreement mean for the climate and global energy systems. It also presents a case as to what countries need to do in order to arrive at net-zero emissions globally by 2050, referred to in the report as the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.”

The WEO-2021 also explores two other scenarios, the “Stated Policies Scenario” and the “Announced Pledges Scenario.” The former “represents a path based on the energy and climate measures governments have actually put in place to date, as well as specific policy initiatives that are under development. The latter “maps out a path in which the net zero emissions pledges announced by governments so far are implemented in time and in full.

The outcomes between the “Stated Policies Scenario” and the “Announced Pledges Scenario” are stark.

“Today’s climate pledges would result in only 20% of the emissions reductions by 2030 that are necessary to put the world on a path towards net zero by 2050,” Dr. Birol said. “Reaching that path requires investment in clean energy projects and infrastructure to more than triple over the next decade. Some 70% of that additional spending needs to happen in emerging and developing economies, where financing is scarce and capital remains up to seven times more expensive than in advanced economies.”

As noted in HRAI’s previous reporting on the upcoming COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century will require a major ongoing collaborative effort on the part of governments, particularly in climate finance commitments, intergovernmental institutions, public and private sector actors, and leading industry experts across the global energy economy.

As a trade association, HRAI is actively working with members and our partners in government and elsewhere to ensure the HVACR industry plays a leading role in these efforts and discussions, particularly on matters pertaining to energy efficiency, decarbonization, technological innovation, and acting as a wealth of industry expertise for policymakers.

For more information, contact Stephen Chartrand at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 276, or email

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