Nobuo Tanaka, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, spoke during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. He blamed a "lack of ambition" in the effort to find a comprehensive clean-energy plan for exacerbating the threat posed by climate change.
"We cannot wait for a global climate deal," he said in his address. "Countries must act now to achieve a secure and cleaner energy future."
He praised a decision by the Emirati government to phase out an energy subsidy program that he said contributed to wasteful energy practices in the region.
Tanaka also pointed to China as a country that could determine the future of the world's energy policies.
China has one of the world's leading economies, is one of the highest consumers of energy and a growing emitter of greenhouse gases.
"The importance of China cannot be overstated," he said. "How China responds to the threats of global energy security and climate change will have far-reaching consequences for the rest of the world."