IEA plan to reduce oil consumption

Cyclists photographed in Lisbon, Portugal in October 2018.

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The International Energy Agency said on Friday that speed limits on highways should be cut by at least 10 kilometers per hour (6.2 mph) to help reduce oil demand.

The recommendation is part of a broader 10-point plan published by the Paris-based organization.

“We estimate that the full implementation of these measures in advanced economies alone could cut oil demand by 2.7 million barrels per day over the next four months from current levels,” the IEA said in a report.

The figure of 2.7 million corresponds to the oil requirement of all cars in China, according to a press release. It also says that partial or full implementation of measures in emerging economies will increase their effect.

The plan comes at a time when oil markets have been facing significant uncertainty and volatility following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

Russia is a major supplier of oil and gas, but its actions in Ukraine have led several countries to try to find ways to reduce their dependence on Russian hydrocarbons.

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In a press conference broadcast via Zoom on Friday morning, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol called the oil markets an “emergency.” Birol added that the situation “could get worse” in the next few months.

Against this backdrop, other IEA proposals to reduce oil demand include:

  • Work from home up to three days a week if possible.
  • Sunday without cars for cities.
  • Reducing the cost of public transport and encouraging people to walk and cycle.
  • Avoid air travel for business when other options are available.
  • Travel on high-speed or overnight trains instead of flying whenever possible.
  • And increased adoption of electric and “more efficient” vehicles. Full list can be read here.

“Reducing the use of oil should not remain a temporary measure,” the IEA said in a report. “Permanent reductions are desirable not only to improve energy security, but also to address climate change and reduce air pollution.”

He added that governments have “all the necessary tools to reduce the demand for oil in the coming years, which will support efforts both to improve energy security and to achieve vital climate goals.”

A number of organizations are calling for a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, but in fact, achieving such a goal is a formidable task. For example, the vast majority of cars on our roads still use gasoline or diesel fuel, and energy companies continue to discover new oil and gas fields in a variety of places around the world.

In a statement released on Friday, the IEA acknowledged that most of its proposals “will require changes in consumer behavior supported by government measures.”

“How and whether these actions are implemented depends on the circumstances of each country – in terms of their energy markets, transport infrastructure, social and political dynamics and other aspects,” the IEA said in a statement.

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The IEA’s plans were also commented on by Barbara Pompili, France’s Minister of Ecological Transition.

“France and all European countries should get rid of dependence on fossil fuels, in particular Russian fossil fuels, as soon as possible,” she said.

“This is absolutely essential for the climate, but also for our energy sovereignty. The plan proposed today by the IEA offers some interesting ideas, some of which are in line with our own ideas to reduce our dependence on oil.”

The IEA report follows the publication of yet another 10-point plan aimed at reducing Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas.

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