Climate researchers and policy experts around the world are singing praise of a study just released by the stodgy International Energy Administration in Paris. “Quite amazing,” said one. “Heartening,” said another. A third one called it, “one of the most important climate analyses ever published.”

The report offers a blueprint of how the global community might still manage to accomplish the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal of preventing the planet from warming more than 1.5°C (2.7°F) above the preindustrial temperature. It requires a complete halt to prospecting for new fossil fuels and a breathtaking acceleration of wind and solar energy development. Of course, even analysts gobsmacked by the study have tossed some brickbats. Paul Hawken, editor of Drawdown, his own plan for combating climate change, acidly asked, “Where were [they] for the last 20 years?” He and others remind us that IEA had soft-peddled renewable energy long after it could well have supported it. Still, climate insiders predict the report will help speed up the replacement fossil fuel with wind, solar and other climate-friendly energy.

The king of electricity

Since it was founded in 1974, IEA and its cadre of highly regarded analysts have focused almost exclusively on fossil fuels. Industrialized nations – including the U.S., Japan, Turkey, Canada, and a dozen Western European countries, formed the organization after the oil crisis of the early 1970s. Peaking oil supplies in major producing countries, and fears about the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, had disrupted oil supplies. Fuel prices soared. To ensure future energy security, the IEA founding nations needed credible statistics on supplies and uses of energy.

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