Nordic pension providers including Norway’s Storebrand, Danish pension fund PensionDanmark and Sweden’s biggest pension fund Alecta are among 64 signatories of a hard-hitting letter telling the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) his organisation must urgently provide a lead in decarbonisation efforts.

Sent to Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA in Paris today, the letter from climate action organisations, prominent individuals, academics and investors took issue with the agency’s 2019 World Economic Outlook (WEO) released on 13 November.

The signatories welcomed improvements the IEA had made to this latest annual WEO, including renaming the New Policies Scenario to the more accurately entitled ‘Stated Policies Scenario’, extending the Sustainable Development Scenario (SDS) to 2050, and reintroducing some discussion of the critical 1.5ºC warming limit.

However, they wrote: “Such minor improvements are very welcome, but should not be mistaken for delivering upon urgently needed substantial changes.”

The signatories said: “We urge you to do better.”

Though they understood the IEA did not intend to define policy or investment decisions, they stressed that the WEO is the globally authoritative publication on energy and energy infrastructure and is used to inform significant investment and political decisions worldwide.

“As the WEO can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, it carries a major responsibility that goes way beyond that of other publications that are merely descriptive,” they wrote, adding that the IEA could not be derelict of this responsibility.

“We renew our call on the IEA to make a fully transparent Sustainable Development Scenario the central reference in the 2020 WEO,” they wrote.

“The ambition of the SDS must be increased to present a reasonable probability of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 (not 2070) and limiting warming to 1.5ºC (not 1.8ºC),” the letter reads.

The year 2020 was a turning point for the world, the signatories wrote, saying this was the year when people either grasped the challenges and opportunities before them, or continued delaying and obstructing the low-carbon transformation.

“This is an opportunity for the IEA to step out in front and show the world what is necessary for us to deliver a 1.5ºC future,” the letter concludes.

Odd Arild Grefstad, chief executive officer of Storebrand, said separately that the IEA needed to provide better tools for governments, investors and companies to align policies, investments and business strategies with the Paris Agreement.

“The IEA has the opportunity to take the lead and showcase what it takes to deliver in line with the Paris Agreement. In their latest report, they have not succeeded in this,” he said.

Other signatories to the joint letter from the pensions and investment sector include leaders of Folksam, IKEA, AMF, Nordea Life & Pension, Zurich Insurance Group and Allianz.