On Tuesday, December 5, 2013, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) hosted an event on the World Energy Outlook 2013. Fatih Birol, Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency, spoke on developments in renewable energy, trends in the use of fossil fuels, energy consumption patterns, and projections through 2035. Adam Sieminski, Administrator of the U.S. Energy Information Administration and Guy Caruso, Senior Advisor in the CSIS Energy and National Security Program, also participated in the event.

Mr. Birol began his presentation by commenting on a renewed focus on global energy efficiency. He highlighted the recent IEA Member Countries’ Statement on Climate Change (PDF) initiated by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The Statement recognizes the importance of affordable and low-carbon technologies for sustainable energy and climate change mitigation. The Statement also reaffirms the commitment of energy ministers and the IEA to encourage the adoption of policy measures including “rationalizing and phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption while providing targeted support for the poorest.”

Despite a general renewed focus on global energy efficiency, Mr. Birol stressed that more emphasis needs to be made on renewable energy, particularly hydroelectric solar and power. He noted that since last year, CO2 emissions increased by 1.4%. Two-thirds of emissions leading to climate change come from the energy sector. “If you want to change CO2 emissions, the energy sector needs to be at the heart of this change,” stated Birol.

In addition to climate change mitigation, Mr. Birol commented on the lack of accessibility and reliability of electricity in rural communities. “Approximately 1.3 billion people – that’s every fifth person on earth – do not have access to electricity. This is a moral issue and in many cases, it is becoming worse,” stated Birol. He continued by highlighting the increasingly important role that renewable energy sources are playing in “powering up the world”.

Video and audio of the CSIS World Energy Outlook 2013 can be found at: