World Energy Outlook 2020

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Via four scenarios, the extensively illustrated report (e.g., Energy Technology RD&D Budgets by country 2020) seeks to provide a comprehensive view of how the global energy system could develop in the coming decades. The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the energy sector over the next ten years is the focus. Conclusions recommend near-term actions that could accelerate clean energy transitions. The contents of the report and an overview of each of the sections is available for free via the website above. The full details of the analysis requires purchase.


  • “The Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS), in which Covid-19 is gradually brought under control in 2021 and the global economy returns to pre-crisis levels the same year. This scenario reflects all of today’s announced policy intentions and targets, insofar as they are backed up by detailed measures for their realisation.
  • “The Delayed Recovery Scenario (DRS) is designed with the same policy assumptions as in the STEPS, but a prolonged pandemic causes lasting damage to economic prospects. The global economy returns to its pre-crisis size only in 2023, and the pandemic ushers in a decade with the lowest rate of energy demand growth since the 1930s.
  • “In the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS), a surge in clean energy policies and investment puts the energy system on track to achieve sustainable energy objectives in full, including the Paris Agreement, energy access and air quality goals. The assumptions on public health and the economy are the same as in the STEPS.
  • “The new Net Zero Emissions by 2050 case (NZE2050) extends the SDS analysis. A rising number of countries and companies are targeting net-zero emissions, typically by mid-century. All of these are achieved in the SDS, putting global emissions on track for net zero by 2070. The NZE2050 includes … detailed IEA modelling of what would be needed in the next ten years to put global CO2 emissions on track for net zero by 2050.”


  • Overview and Key Finding
  • An Energy World in Lockdown: Has Covid-19 changed the game
  • Building on a Sustainable Recovery: Can every cloud have a silver lining?
  • Achieving Net Zero Emissions by 2050: What would be needed over the next decade?
  • Outlook for Energy Demand: When and where will energy use recover?
  • Outlook for Electricity:  A new path is lit?
  • Outlook for Fuel Supply: Knocked down, but will they get up again?
  • A Delayed Recovery:  The pandemic continues, the recession deepens


  • Low economic growth is not a low-emissions strategy – it is a strategy that would only serve to further impoverish the world’s most vulnerable populations.
  • Renewables, and solar power in particular, are key to each of the scenarios.
  • Strong growth of renewables needs to be paired with robust investment in electricity grids. Without enough investment, grids will prove to be a weak link in the transformation of the power sector, with implications for the reliability and security of electricity supply.
  • Although the era of global oil demand growth will come to an end in the next decade, but — absent concerted efforts by government — the decline will not be rapid. A global economic recovery in the early 2020s will push oil demand back to pre-crisis levels.
  • Only faster structural changes to the way energy is produced and consumed will break the emissions trend. Governments have the capacity and the responsibility to take decisive actions to accelerate clean energy transitions.