IEA recommends Sunday driving bans and lower speed limits to cut Russian fuel dependency

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The International Energy Agency has urged countries to adopt emergency measures to cut back oil demand. Its 10 point Plan includes some drastic measures like banning driving on Sundays or cutting the speed limit on motorways by 10 miles per hour.

IEA recommends Sunday driving bans and lower speed limits to cut Russian fuel dependency
Photo credits @ Highways England

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has put forward 10 measures that it says could cut global oil demand by 2.7 million barrels per day within four months. At the same time, it is said the measures would help to control stock levels and prices. These steps include reducing speed limits on motorways by 6mph to 64mph, as well as ‘car-free Sundays’ in major cities.

In the face of the emerging global energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, practical actions by governments and citizens in advanced economies and beyond can achieve significant reductions in oil demand in a matter of months, reducing the risk of a major supply crunch. That’s according to new analysis released by the International Energy Agency today.

“These efforts would reduce the price pain being felt by consumers around the world, lessen the economic damage, shrink Russia’s hydrocarbon revenues, and help move oil demand towards a more sustainable pathway,” states the agency.

If fully carried out in advanced economies, the measures recommended by the IEA’s new 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use would lower oil demand by 2.7 million barrels a day within four months – equivalent to the oil demand of all the cars in China. This would significantly reduce potential strains at a time when a large number of Russian supplies may no longer reach the market and the peak demand season of July and August is approaching. The measures would have an even greater effect if adopted in part or in full in emerging economies as well.

The new report also includes recommendations for decisions to be taken immediately  by governments and citizens to transition from the short-term emergency actions included in the 10-Point Plan to sustained measures that would put countries’ oil demand into a structural decline consistent with a pathway towards net zero emissions by 2050.

Since the majority of oil demand comes from transport, the IEA’s 10-Point Plan focuses on how to use less oil getting people and goods from A to B, drawing on concrete measures that have already been put to use in a diverse range of countries and cities. The short-term actions it proposes include reducing the amount of oil consumed by cars through lower speed limits, working from home, occasional limits on car access to city centres, cheaper public transport, more carpooling and other initiatives – and greater use of high-speed rail and virtual meetings instead of air travel.

“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 with Barbara Pompili, the Minister for the Ecological Transition of France, which currently holds the Presidency of the European Union.

The IEA’s 10-Point Plan is as follows:

  • Reduce speed limits on highways by at least 10 km/h
    Impact*: Saves around 290 kb/d of oil use from cars, and an additional 140 kb/d from trucks
  • Work from home up to three days a week where possible
    Impact: One day a week saves around 170 kb/d; three days saves around 500 kb/d
  • Car-free Sundays in cities
    Impact: Every Sunday saves around 380 kb/d; one Sunday a month saves 95 kb/d
  • Make the use of public transport cheaper and incentivise micromobility, walking and cycling
    Impact: Saves around 330 kb/d
  • Alternate private car access to roads in large cities
    Impact: Saves around 210 kb/d
  • Increase car-sharing and adopt practices to reduce fuel use
    Impact: Saves around 470 kb/d
  • Promote efficient driving for freight trucks and delivery of goods
    Impact: Saves around 320 kb/d
  • Using high-speed and night trains instead of planes where possible
    Impact: Saves around 40 kb/d
  • Avoid business air travel where alternative options exist
    Impact: Saves around 260 kb/d
  • Reinforce the adoption of electric and more efficient vehicles
    Impact: Saves around 100 kb/d

Note: Impacts are short term and reflect implementation in advanced economies where feasible and culturally acceptable; kb/d = thousand barrels of oil a day.

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