The G8 nations together with China, India and South Korea have pledged to increase energy efficiency and promote investment in a range of clean energy technologies in order to combat climate change and improve energy security.

At their latest meeting held in Japan, energy ministers from the 11 countries agreed a raft of measures to promote sustainable development and expressed concerns over the current level of oil prices. Energy efficiency, nuclear power, clean coal technologies and renewable energy are all key to addressing energy security and climate change while maintaining economic growth, said the nations in a statement.

“Together with energy efficiency, energy diversification to encourage greater use of lower-carbon energy is a key for addressing energy security and climate change,” reads the statement. “We will promote various kinds of lower-carbon energies, that could include renewable energies, cleaner use of fossil fuels, and for those of us interested, nuclear energy, with nationally determined voluntary goals and action plans, where appropriate.”

The energy ministers’ statement echoes the findings of the IEA’s most recent Energy Technology Perspectives report, which calls for a global energy technology revolution to overcome the “daunting combination of surging energy demand, rising greenhouse gas emissions and tightening resources”.

The IEA report – released to coincide with the G8 energy ministers’ meeting – notes that “no single form of energy or technology can provide the full solution. Improving energy efficiency is the first step and is very attractive as it results in immediate cost savings. Significantly reducing emissions from power generation is also a key component of emissions stabilisation”.

The June G8 meeting has resulted in the creation of a new body, the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency and Cooperation (IPEEC), to serve as a forum for sharing best practice in energy efficiency. Its work will include supporting existing energy efficiency programmes, information exchange and developing public-private partnerships in key energy consuming sectors.

“Promotion of energy efficiency both in energy supply and demand chain is a necessary prerequisite for enhancing energy security and mitigation of climate change while supporting economic growth in a cost effective manner,” said the 11 nations in a joint statement.

The energy ministers present also pledged to ensure that all newly built coal fired power plants are equipped with advanced, state-of-the-art technologies to reduce emissions from the power sector. They have also recognised the role of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in tackling climate change and energy security and say they will “work towards the creation of an enabling environment for the broad deployment of CCS through the acceleration of research, development, deployment and dissemination of CCS”.

High oil prices were central to the ministers’ discussions, although the statement makes no mention of OPEC, which has come under pressure to increase production. Over the last four years, oil prices have more than tripled to $140/barrel in early June.

“Current high oil prices are unprecedented and against the interest of either consuming or producing countries. They pose a heavy burden – particularly on resource-scarce developing countries,” said the ministers’ statement.

The IEA’s new report says that in a business-as-usual scenario, CO2 emissions will rise by 130 per cent and oil demand will rise by 70 per cent by 2050. This expansion in oil equals five times today’s production of Saudi Arabia.

“Such growth of oil demand raises major concerns regarding energy supply access and investment needs”, said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the IEA.

“We are very far from sustainable development, despite the widespread recognition of the long-term problem. In fact, CO2 emissions growth has accelerated considerably in recent years,” said Tanaka. “Higher oil and gas prices result in a rapid switch to coal. Moreover rapid growth in China and India, both coal-based economies, has also contributed to this deteriorating outlook.”