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Gas/Electricity Energy Sector: Overview

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Energy is at the heart of the global climate dialogue ─ The climate challenge is essentially an energy challenge. With that in mind, policymakers around the world are seeking to reduce climate risks, accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies, ensure an orderly transition toward clean new energy industries, enable inclusion and fairness, and maintain energy security.

Climate change

The energy sector is central to efforts to combat climate change

Promoting sustainable development and combating climate change have become integral aspects of energy planning, analysis, and policymaking. Energy accounts for two-thirds of total greenhouse gas, so efforts to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change must include the energy sector.


Making energy systems more connected, efficient, resilient and sustainable

Stunning advances in data, analytics, and connectivity are enabling a range of new digital applications such as smart appliances, shared mobility, and 3D printing. Digitalized energy systems in the future may be able to identify who needs energy and deliver it at the right time, in the right place, and at the lowest cost.

Digitalization is already improving the safety, productivity, accessibility, and sustainability of energy systems. But digitalization is also raising new security and privacy risks. It is also changing markets, businesses, and employment. New business models are emerging, while some century-old models may be on their way out.

Policymakers, business executives, and other stakeholders increasingly face new and complex decisions, often with incomplete or imperfect information. Adding to this challenge is the extremely dynamic nature of energy systems, which are often built on large, long-lived physical infrastructure and assets.

World Energy Outlook

The gold standard of energy analysis

There is no single story about the future of global energy and no long-term IEA forecast for the energy sector. The WEO uses a scenario-based approach to highlight the key choices, consequences, and contingencies that lie ahead and to illustrate how the course of the energy system might be affected by changing some of the key variables, chief among them the energy policies adopted by governments around the world.

Flagship Report


Energy and water

Exploring the interdependence of two critical resources

Energy supply depends on water. Water supply depends on energy. The interdependency of water and energy is set to intensify in the coming years, with significant implications for both energy and water security. Each resource faces rising demands and constraints in many regions as a consequence of economic and population growth and climate change.

”Low-carbon doesn’t necessarily mean low water.”

Tracking the impact of fossil-fuel subsidies

In 2020, the fall in fossil fuel prices and energy use brought the value of fossil fuel consumption subsidies down to a record low – the estimate of just over USD 180 billion is some 40% down from 2019 levels. This is the lowest annual figure since we started tracking these subsidies in 2007. Almost all countries had lower estimated subsidies year-on-year; Iran remains the single largest provider of these subsidies, although the value of the implicit support to domestic consumers fell by more than USD 50 billion in 2020, due to low crude prices and weak economic conditions. One of the very few categories, where our subsidy estimate grew year-on-year, was oil products in China (notably for residential use), reflecting a relatively rapid recovery from the pandemic. Overall, the weighted-average subsidy rate was some 10% – meaning that consumers receiving these subsidies paid on average around 90% of the competitive market reference prices for the energy products concerned.

Among the fuels, subsidies to oil products remained the largest single component of the total (USD 90 billion out of the total USD 180 billion). Subsidies for residential consumption of oil products overtook those for transport fuels, which fell by half because of lower demand for mobility during lockdowns and the economic slump. Subsidies to fossil fuels used to produce electricity are the next-largest element of the overall subsidy estimate (USD 50 billion in 2020), followed by natural gas (USD 35 billion) and coal (USD 1.7 billion).

Tracking Clean Energy Progress

Where do we need to go?

The IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) offers a pathway for the global energy system to reach three strategic goals: the Paris Agreement’s well below 2°C climate goal, universal energy access and substantially reducing air pollution.

But based on existing and announced policies – as shown in the IEA’s Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS) – we are far from on track.

How do we get there?

The IEA’s Tracking Clean Energy Progress (TCEP) reports assess the status of 46 critical energy technologies and sectors and provides recommendations on how they can get ‘on track’ with the SDS.

What’s on track?

These tracking reports are based on the latest complete data available, usually from 2019. The IEA is also closely tracking the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on clean energy progress in 2020 and beyond.

Consistent, accurate, and timely energy data and statistics are fundamental to developing effective and efficient national energy policies, as well as a key element in longer-term planning for investment in the energy sector. To this end, the IEA provides the world’s most authoritative and comprehensive source of global energy data.

The IEA collects, assesses, and disseminates energy statistics on supply and demand, compiled into energy balances in addition to a number of other key energy-related indicators, including energy prices, public RD&D and measures of energy efficiency, with other measures in development.

This emphasis on sound data provides a unique platform for modeling work and tracking both short-term shifts and long-term trends in countries’ energy transitions, particularly for clean energy.

The coronavirus (Covid-19) has created the biggest global crisis in generations, sending shock waves through health systems, economies, and societies around the world. Faced with an unprecedented situation, governments are focused on bringing the disease under control and reviving their economies.  

The energy sector is also severely affected by this crisis, which has slowed transport, trade, and economic activity across the globe. Our latest analysis of daily data through mid-April, published in our Global Energy Review 2020, shows that countries in full lockdown are experiencing an average 25% decline in energy demand per week and countries in partial lockdown an average 18% decline.

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