Group calculates global oil demand could be reduce by 2.7 million barrels a day if string of 10 emergency measures were introduced

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has this morning published a 10-point plan setting out how policymakers, businesses, and citizens in advanced economies could slash oil use so as to reduce the impacts of a “crippling supply crunch”, shrink Russia’s ability to finance its war machine, and curb rising global carbon emissions.

From incentives for public transport to lower speed limits and car-free Sundays, the organisation argued the various measures set out in its plan could lower oil demand by 2.7 million barrels a day within four months, roughly equivalent to the oil consumed by all the cars in China.

With the majority of oil demand coming from transport, the roadmap focuses largely on reducing the amount of the fossil fuel used by passenger cars, with some measures aimed at slashing fossil fuel demand from aviation.

In the face of the emerging global energy crisis set off by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, our new 10 Point Plan to Cut Oil Use proposes actions to

➡️ ease market strains
➡️ reduce the price pain being felt by consumers
➡️ lessen the economic damage


— Fatih Birol (@fbirol) March 18, 2022

The group has called for speed limits to be reduced on highways by at least 10 km/h, and for cities to introduce car-free Sundays, or schemes where private cars’ access to certain roads is restricted to even number plates on some weekdays, and odd-numbered plates on others.

Meanwhile, policymakers should incentivise public transport, active transport, and car sharing, while hastening the adoption of electric and more efficient vehicles, and promoting more efficient use of freight trucks and goods delivery, it said.

A number of the recommendations have implications for businesses. The group has recommended that where possible employees should work from home for up to three days a week, minimise business travel, and replace plane travel with high-speed trains.

“IEA member countries have already stepped in to support the global economy with an initial release of millions of barrels of emergency oil stocks, but we can also take action on demand to avoid the risk of a crippling oil crunch,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol. “Our 10-Point Plan shows this can be done through measures that have already been tested and proven in multiple countries.”

Speaking at a news conference, Birol warned the impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would be felt acutely by those advanced economies most heavily reliant on oil. “As a result of Russia’s appalling aggression against Ukraine, the world may well be facing its biggest oil supply shock in decades, with huge implications for our economies and societies,” he said.

The IEA noted that most of the proposed actions require changes in the behaviour of consumers, but added the changes should be supported by measures from state, regional and local governments.

It said it “stood ready” to help nations in the design of measures that suited their particular circumstances, noting that countries’ public transport systems, political dynamics and energy systems varied from place to place.

The IEA has stressed that reducing oil use should not be seen as a temporary measure, given that a sustained reduction of consumption of the fossil fuel would also help tackle climate change and reduce air pollution.  

“France and all European countries must get out of their dependence on fossil fuels, in particular on Russian fossil fuels as soon as possible,” said Barbara Pompili, the minister for the ecological transition of France, which holds the EU presidency this year. “It is an absolute necessity, for the climate but also for our energy sovereignty.”

The report comes just a few weeks after the IEA published a 10-point plan setting out how European Union nations could reduce their reliance on Russian fossil gas.

The move comes as governments across Europe continue to work on sweeping plans to reduce fossil fuel imports, primarily through energy efficiency measures and the accelerated development of clean energy projects such as wind and solar farms. However, governments have to date largely failed to call directly on the public to change behaviours to reduce fossil fuel demand, despite the fact that such moves represent the quickest means of curbing imports from Russia.

Want to find out more about how the net zero transition will impact your business? You can now sign up to attend the virtual Net Zero Finance Summit, which will take place live and interactive on Tuesday 29 March and will be available on demand for delegates after the event.

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