Commuters wait on the Jubilee line platform at Canning Town Station in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg— Getty Images
March 18, 2022 10:29 AM EDT

The International Energy Agency said the world could lessen an oil shortage caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by restricting how people use their cars and accelerating the transformation of cities dominated by the automobile.

“We are experiencing a major crisis,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said at a press conference on Friday. “Oil markets are in an emergency situation. And not only that—it may even get worse than today in the next few months.”

Advanced economies could reduce their daily oil demand by 2.7 million barrels within four months by following a 10-step plan, the IEA said. That would significantly ease looming supply strains by almost offsetting the 3 million barrel-a-day loss of Russian production the agency anticipates for April.

“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 to a more sustainable pathway,” the Paris-based IEA said in a report.

President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has upended global commodity markets, sending prices soaring and prompting an urgent search for alternative sources of energy. While most countries—excluding the U.S. and U.K.—haven’t banned Russian oil imports, and none of its major customers are sanctioning natural gas supplies, there could still be disruptions as buyers voluntarily shun trade with Moscow.

The IEA’s plan to curtail oil demand includes lower speed limits for cars, urging people to work from home, placing occasional limits on car access to city centers, making public transport cheaper, encouraging carpooling, and greater use of high-speed rail and virtual meetings instead of air travel.

Earlier this month, the agency said the European Union could slash imports of Russian gas by a third within a year by increasing purchases from elsewhere, ramping up renewables and boosting energy efficiency.

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