Press Release12.12.2012, Berlin

Energy Systems Transformation provides Multiple Benefits

Launch of the Global Energy Assessment-Report

The German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) launch today the Global Energy Assessment Report (GEA) in Germany.

The GEA was coordinated by IIASA and led by more than 500 of the world's leading energy experts from research, business, industry and politics from 70 countries. GEA is the first ever fully integrated energy assessment that analyzes energy challenges, opportunities and strategies, for developing, industrialized and emerging economies. Several WBGU members were involved in the report.

Assessing the global energy challenges in a changing world

The Global Energy Assessment (GEA) is the culmination of a multi-year initiative to assess the global energy challenges of our rapidly changing world. It identifies the urgent need for a sustained and comprehensive strategy to resolve the issues facing sustainable development, including poverty eradication, climate change mitigation, health, energy security, and energy access. Implementation of this strategy relies on strong commitments from policy- and decision-makers to achieve a transformation of the global energy system.

The GEA envisions energy systems which meet the multiple objectives required for a sustainable future, including: sustained economic growth; expanded access to modern energy services for poor and rural populations; alleviation of local, regional, and global environmental and health impacts; securing energy and fuel supplies; as well as the necessary investments to do so.

The GEA’s unique approach involves broad and integrated analyses to identify comprehensive solutions to global energy challenges. The GEA identifies the major energy challenges and evaluates the energy resources and technological options available to build sustainable energy system. Finally, the policies and investments needed to make these future systems a reality are outlined.

Economically viable and multiple co-benefits

A major finding of the GEA is that some energy options provide multiple benefits. This is particularly true of energy efficiency, renewables, and the co-production of synthetic transportation fuels, cooking fuels, and electricity with CCS, which offer advantages in terms of supporting all of the goals related to economic growth, jobs, energy security, local and regional environmental benefits, health, and climate change mitigation.

41 Pathways to a sustainable Energy system

The GEA explores sixty alternative energy transformation pathways and finds that forty-one of these pathways simultaneously satisfy the following goals:

  • Universal access to affordable modern energy carriers and end-use conversion (especially electricity and clean cooking) by 2030;
  • Enhanced energy security at regional and national levels;
  • Climate change mitigation (contain global mean temperature increase to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with a probability of at least 50%); and
  • Improved human and environmental health by controlling household and ambient air pollution, ocean acidification, and deforestation.

The GEA considers all aspects of energy, inclusive of sectors that intersect with the energy system (such as health, water, transport, building, land-use, and forestry) and offers direction for all sectors and regions on how to achieve necessary reforms.

Additional investments equate to energy subsidies

The GEA analysis indicates that a rapid transformation to clean energy technologies would require an increase in annual investments from present levels of approximately $US1.3 trillion to $US1.7 trillion, about two percent of current world gross domestic product. The difference corresponds roughly to the current energy subsidies that are often impeding the needed transformational change.


GEA webpage with summary

Fulll version of GEA

Order a printed copy of GEA from Cambridge University Press