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Need for drastic reduction in consumption of fossil energy to save the climate

Publish date: November 13, 2012

Written by: Sirin Engen

If the world is serious about reaching its 2°C goal on global warming, the consumption of fossil fuels needs to decrease drastically. Instead, it is necessary to focus massively on renewable energy, energy efficiency and capture and storage of CO2 (CCS), according to the International Energy Agency’s latest World Energy Outlook report.

 The International Energy Agency (IEA) presented their annual World Energy Outlook today. This is deemed to be one of the most important reports for companies and stakeholders in the energy industry worldwide.

 

Not trying hard enough

Following the presentation of this year’s report, Head of Bellona’s clean energy department, Janne Stene, said that the report clearly states that the world is not even close to doing what is necessary to save the climate:

–          There is almost no room for an increase in gas production, oil consumption will have to be cut significantly and coal consumption needs to decrease dramatically, if the world is to reach its 2°C goal, says Stene.

–          Stene continues by stating that such a development would have severe consequences for Norwegian oil and gas industries, and refers to the fact that the IEA has also confirmed that “without a significant deployment of CCS, more than two-thirds of current proven fossil-fuel cannot be commercialised in a 2°C world before 2050”.

–          This would ultimately mean that the fossil industries are dependent on the success of the development of capturing and storing CO2. Simply put, there is no room for the greenhouse gases from the combustion of oil, gas and coal in the atmosphere.  

 

Positive elements

Stene does however see some positive tendencies in the report:

–          It proves that there are possible solutions to the situation we are facing today; we can buy some time through a massive commitment on smarter and more efficient use of energy.

–          If the energy efficiency measures that the IEA suggests were to be conducted, the increase in energy consumption would be cut in half. This translates in to the entire oil production in Norway and Russia combined.

It is ascertained in one of the report’s summaries that “the rapid deployment of energy-efficient technologies can delay the complete “lock-in” of CO2 emissions (…) until 2022, buying five extra years to reach a global climate agreement”.

Nonetheless, the Agency adds in the following sentence that “in addition to energy efficiency, however, low-carbon technologies will be needed to achieve the 2°C goal”, and underlines the necessity of a drastic shift from fossil energy sources.

 

Stronger commitments to renewable energy and efficiency

Directives and regulations relating to energy efficiency have received much attention within the EU, and particularly in the countries which are already dealing with a very difficult economic situation. Even though the bureaucrats of the European Commission argue that moving towards a more energy-efficient Europe will create growth and sustainability, several of their proposals have been met with some alterations in the European Parliament.

In the IEA’s latest press release it is argued that “energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits”. IEA chief economists said during yesterday’s press conference that the world’s failure to implement energy efficiency measures amount to an “epic failure”.

However, the IEA also writes that renewable energy will become the second largest source of power generation in the world by 2015, and that by 2035 it could overtake coal to become the primary source, assuming that current subsidies continue. The EU’s Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger highlighted the importance of renewable energy earlier this month and made it clear that he indeed supports a new CO2 emissions reduction target for 2030. 

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