10

Can the World Meet its Climate Change Goals? Unlikely, According to IEA Report

climate-change-goals“No country is an energy ‘island,’ “the International Energy Agency (IEA) states in the executive summary of its recently released World Energy Outlook (WEO).  This report addresses the most important energy question in the world today.  Can the world increase its energy efficiency to meet IEA goals for curbing climate change and still expand access to electricity to poor and developing regions?  In the 2012 WEO, the IEA suggests that it is possible, but not without all nations taking substantial measures to increase efficiency.

The 2012 WEO projects that the United States’ energy boom will make the US the leading global oil producer by 2020.  By that time, the outlook surmises, about 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports will be directed to Asia.  Growth in fossil fuel use is likely to continue the planet on its current trend of climate change.  The goal of the WEO to keep the long-term global temperature rise to below 2°C could be surpassed by 2017.  The actual rate of carbon emissions and temperature rise will be affected greatly by the energy efficiency measures taken worldwide to mitigate climate change.  In the Efficient World Scenario presented in the WOE, the IEA shows that worldwide energy efficiency efforts could cut the growth of world energy demand by as much as half and decrease demand for oil by about 13mb/d by 2035.

While coal is expected to remain the primary power source in future years, renewables such as hydro, wind, and solar power are projected to become the second largest source of power generation by 2035, accounting for about one third of total energy output.  The outlook also warns, however, that energy production will require unprecedented amounts of water in order to remain viable.  This is a factor that could constrain power production in many areas, such as Iraq’s oil fields.

So, what does this string of projected figures and dates mean?  The most important point made in this report is that the world is not even close to keeping global climate change below the 2°C (above pre-industrial times) goal agreed on by the UN Copenhagen Accord in 2009.  Over 140 countries have agreed to this pledge to fight climate change, but so far, policies have not been aggressive enough.  Even if aggressive energy efficiency measures are implemented, no more than one third of existing fossil fuel reserves can be consumed before 2050 if the world is to keep global warming to the 2°C goal.  Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology could be used to offset carbon emissions, but presently there are few of these projects in operation, and so the effects of CCS technology on a large scale are not certain.  In other words, CCS technology is not yet advanced enough to be a trustworthy source of carbon mitigation.  The WEO explains that the world is on track to “lock in” the allowable amount of carbon emissions by 2017, and could possibly extend this to 2022 with the use of energy efficiency measures.

What is concerning about the 2012 WEO isn’t necessarily the report of the world’s dismal progress toward meeting goals for carbon emissions and climate change, but that this information isn’t even new.  The EIA warned in its 2010 WEO that if countries did not act to aggressively curb carbon emissions, it would be “all but impossible to achieve the 2°C goal.”  Taking into account the policy changes countries announced at the UN Copenhagen Accord, the WEO in 2010 predicted a long-term global temperature rise of 3.5°C.

We can only speculate on what the actual effects of carbon emissions will be on the global climate.  It is clear, however, that adopting energy efficiency improvements is crucial not only to world climate, but to world economy.  The 2012 WEO projects a huge economic advantage amounting to $18 trillion by 2035 if efficiency improvements are implemented.  The US is one country slated to benefit from the boosted economy.  Perhaps if environmental incentives are not enough to urge countries to implement more aggressive carbon emission policies, the economic benefits will become the catalyst for a global shift to energy efficiency.

Jessica Kennedy
Energy Curtailment Specialists, Inc.

Jessica can be found on Twitter and Google+.

Print Friendly
↑ Back to top

10 Comments

  1. Shah Zulfiqar Haider
     – 

    “Energy is to cheap to be made efficient”. Government highly subsidizes energy costs for various gains. Energy demand and use is increasing at a very high rate. Less costly but inefficient electric appliances have made situation complex. Same is the case with other energy consuming items. It seems it is now mainly the Government responsibility to save energy and adopt energy efficiency means. Lack of education in developing countries is also a reason. The solution need education and time. But above all, there is no alternative to energy saving or energy efficency.

    • Jessica Kennedy
       – 

      Exactly! Our only hope, it seems, is if governments all over the world get serious with energy efficiency policies.

  2. [...] recent 2012 World Energy Outlook released by the International Energy Agency is skeptical that the world can curb CO2 emissions [...]

  3. [...] necessary if Earth is going to avoid potentially catastrophic climate change.  The IEA’s recent World Energy Outlook projects dismal progress on climate change if radical policies aren’t enacted.  This years’ UN [...]

  4. [...] Flooring Earns $24,000 Energy Efficiency RebateJob Fair for Veterans Jan. 31 in HiloGoing GreenCan the World Meet its Climate Change GoalsDebt Garnishments And Social Security BenefitsWind industry’s roar may diminish in 2013luckett [...]

  5. [...] necessary if Earth is going to avoid potentially catastrophic climate change.  The IEA’s recent World Energy Outlook projects dismal progress on climate change if radical policies aren’t enacted.  This years’ UN [...]

  6. [...] with traditional fossil fuel based generation due to tax benefits.  Recent reports, such as the IEA’s World Energy Outlook, have underscored the importance of integrating clean and renewable energy sources as a way of [...]

  7. [...] International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a World Energy Outlook Special Report warning the world that current climate change policies are on track to far exceed [...]

  8. […] “No country is an energy ‘island,’” stated the International Energy Agency (IEA) in their World Energy Outlook (WEO) report in November.  Despite progress being made in the US, the combination of increased carbon emissions from China, India, and numerous developing countries will entirely offset US reductions for the next few years and then some.  Although the WEO report states that over 140 countries have agreed to fight climate change, their efforts have not been aggressive enough to achieve keeping climate change below 2 degrees (still don’t remember where the degree symbol is on Word) Celsius, which is the goal agreed upon by the UN Copenhagen Accord in 2009. […]

  9. […] recent 2012 World Energy Outlook released by the International Energy Agency is skeptical that the world can curb CO2 emissions […]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

*