Looks like Gore and Hansen and Climate Progress were right, all along. We must reverse our energy path in the next decade or suffer the consequences, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency. Indeed, the headline comes from their dire press release.
China’s and India’s surging fuel consumption poses a growing challenge to the world’s energy systems and, unless curbed, will strain global oil trade, push up prices and lead to substantially higher carbon dioxide emissions in coming decades, according to a report by an influential energy organization scheduled for release today.
In unusually urgent tones, the International Energy Agency, which provides policy advice to industrial nations, urged advanced economies to work with China and India to cut overall growth in energy consumption.”
[Note to IEA and world: Duh!]
“There is a need for an electroshock,” said Fatih Birol, the agency’s chief economist and the lead author of its flagship publication, The World Energy Outlook [WEO]. “We have to act immediately and boldly.”
Birol told the Financial Times: “We want more action, instead of more targets and more meetings and more talks.”
Finally, someone talking sense! Back to the New York Times:
“This is a very worrying message,” Mr. Birol said. “China and India are transforming our energy markets. We have a window of opportunity of 5 to 10 years before it becomes unsustainable and irreversible.”
The IEA does acknowledge the benefits of China’s and India’s growth:
“Rapid economic development will undoubtedly continue to drive up energy demand in China and India, and will contribute to a real improvement in the quality of life for more than two billion people. This is a legitimate aspiration that needs to be accommodated and supported by the rest of the world”, said Mr. Tanaka [IEA's Exec. Dir.]. “Indeed, most countries stand to benefit economically from China’s and India’s economic development through international trade.”
The costs, however, are equally high:
But the consequences of unfettered growth in global energy demand are alarming for all countries. If governments around the world stick with existing policies — the underlying premise of the WEO Reference Scenario — the world’s energy needs would be well over 50% higher in 2030 than today. China and India together account for 45% of the increase in global primary energy demand in this scenario. Both countries’ energy use is set to more than double between 2005 and 2030. Worldwide, fossil fuels — oil, gas and coal — continue to dominate the fuel mix. Among them, coal is set to grow most rapidly, driven largely by power-sector demand in China and India. These trends lead to continued growth in global energy-related emissions of carbon-dioxide (CO2), from 27 Gt in 2005 to 42 Gt in 2030 — a rise of 57%. China is expected to overtake the United States to become the world’s biggest emitter in 2007, while India becomes the third-biggest emitter by around 2015. China’s per-capita emissions almost reach those of OECD Europe by 2030.
This is incompatible with stabilization of carbon at safe levels. The IEA notes:
In a “450 Stabilisation Case”, which describes a notional pathway to long-term stabilisation of the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at around 450 parts per million, global emissions peak in 2012 and then fall sharply below 2005 levels by 2030.
I can’t conclude this better than just repeating the word’s of IEA’s chief economist:
We want more action, instead of more targets and more meetings and more talks.