The International Energy Agency (IEA) has called on governments to put clean energy technologies at the heart of economic stimulus packages drawn up in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The agency is concerned that policy makers could lose sight of long-term climate change goals as they develop responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. It says that clean energy-focused stimulus packages would have benefits of boosting economic growth and accelerating the clean energy transition.

The IEA also expects that falling oil prices will undermine clean energy transitions by reducing the impetus for energy efficiency policies.

In a blog post, Fatih Birol, IEA executive director said: “The coronavirus is turning into an unprecedented international crisis, with serious repercussions for people’s health and economic activity. Although they may be severe, the effects are likely to be temporary.

“We should not allow today’s crisis to compromise our efforts to tackle the world’s inescapable challenge.”

Birol noted that economic stimulus packages being drawn up by governments offer an excellent opportunity to ensure that clean energy investment continues.

Established technologies such as wind and solar could be deployed widely thanks to their reduced costs, while investment in newer technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen would help them to scale up and lower costs.

Birol also recognised the importance of nuclear energy in ensuring a stable supply of electricity.

"Firm capacity, including nuclear power in countries that have chosen to retain it as an option, is a crucial element in ensuring a secure electricity supply.

"Policy makers need to design markets that reward different sources for their contributions to electricity security, which can enable them to establish viable business models," he added.