Reduce consumption to avoid crippling oil supply crunch, says IEA

The International Energy Agency (IEA) unveiled a new 10-point plan on Friday to rapidly reduce oil consumption, and help mitigate against rising prices or fuel shortages amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The agency, which advises developed countries on their energy policy, says it fears a “shock” to global oil supply following sanctions against Russia, estimating that Russian supply cannot be easily replaced in the immediate future.

Some of the IEA’s suggestions include:

  • Reducing motorway speeds by 10km per hour
  • Working from home three days per week, where possible
  • Making public transport cheaper, and encouraging cycling or walking
  • Using trains instead of planes where possible, and avoid taking flights for business

The IEA also wants to see more car-free Sundays in cities, and encouragement for drivers to switch to electric vehicles instead of petrol or diesel.

With these measures taken together, the IEA reckons it could reduce oil consumption by 2.7 million barrels per day in four months – and have an even greater impact if they were adopted in emerging economies.

“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,” said Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA.

“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.

“How and if actions to cut oil use are implemented is subject to each country’s circumstances.

“National governments should take the lead, but some measures can be carried out directly by states, regions, cities or other layers of government – or voluntarily by citizens & companies.”

Critics, however, say these are measures the IEA should have been promoting already, because of the climate crisis.

Dr James Carton is a professor in sustainable energy at Dublin City University and said on Twitter “these simple points are what scientists have been calling for because of [the] climate crisis for decades.”

“Why must it take a war and suffering to have climate action?” he asks.