IEA World Energy Outlook

In chapters 10 and 11, I have already referred extensively to the work of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and to their Energy Technology Perspectives published in June 2008 that outlines an energy future up to 2050 that aims at stabilization of atmospheric carbon dioxide consistent with a rise in global surface temperature of less than 2 °C. The IEA's annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) is the most important world publication in the energy field. The WEO published in November 2008 includes extensive analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from energy production. There follow some quotes from its Executive Summary, beginning with the opening sentences. The italics are theirs.

The world's energy system is at a crossroads. Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable - environmentally, economically, socially. But that can - and must - be altered; there's still time to change the road we're on. It is not an exaggeration to claim that the future of human prosperity depends on how successfully we tackle the two central energy challenges facing us today; securing the supply of reliable and affordable energy; and effecting a rapid transformation to a low-carbon, efficient and environmentally benign system of energy supply. What is needed is nothing short of an energy revolution.

Preventing catastrophic and irreversible damage to the global climate ultimately requires a major decarbonisation of the world energy sources. The 15th conference of the Parties to be held in Copenhagen in November 2009, provides a vital opportunity to negotiate a new global climate change policy regime for beyond 2012 ... The consequences for the global climate of policy inaction are shocking ... The road from Copenhagen must be paved with more than good intentions.

Any agreement will have to take into account the importance of a handful of major emitters. The five largest emitters of energy-related CO2 - China, the United States, the European Union, India and Russia - together account for almost two-thirds of global CO2 emissions ... The contributions to emissions reductions made by China and the United States will be critical to reaching a stabilisation goal.

The energy sector will have to play the central role in curbing emissions - through major improvements in efficiency and rapid switching to renewables and other low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) ... Governments have to put in place appropriate financial incentives and regulatory frameworks that support both energy security and climate policy goals in an integrated way.

The scale of the challenge in the 450 Policy Scenario ... The technology shift, if achievable, would certainly be unprecedented in scale and speed of deployment. Increased public and private spending on research and development in the near term would be essential to develop the advanced technologies needed to make the 450 Policy Scenario a reality is immense.

It is within the power of all governments, of producing and consuming countries alike, acting alone or together, to steer the world towards a cleaner, cleverer and more competitive energy system. Time is running out and the time to act is now.

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