The world is risking locking itself into an inefficient, insecure, high-carbon future unless decisive action is taken swiftly, warned the International Energy Agency (IEA) yesterday.
The admonition came as the organisation launched the latest edition of its World Energy Outlook (WEO).
Governments around the globe need to introduce stronger measures to drive energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies, says IEA executive director Maria van der Hoeven.
“Growth, prosperity and rising population will inevitably push up energy needs over the coming decades. But we cannot continue to rely on insecure and environmentally unsustainable uses of energy,” she says.
According to the scenario modelled in the WEO, cumulative CO2 emissions will drive the long-term average temperature rise to 3.5°C.
The model assumes primary energy demand will rise by a third between now and 2035, driven mainly by non-OECD economies, with the proportion of fossil fuels in use falling from 81% to 75% and renewables increasing from 13% to 18%.
While such an increase in renewables will require subsidies to rise from current levels of around $64 billion to $250 billion in 2035, this is still much less than the subsidies for fossil fuels that currently amount to £409 billion, points out the IEA.
But the starkest warning of the report is that if new policies are not implemented by 2017 the world is on track for an average temperature rise of 6°C.
The world has already reached the point of 390 parts per million (ppm) of CO2, four-fifths of the way to the limit of 450 ppm that would keep temperature rises to 2°C.
“As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the ‘lock-in’ of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals,” says IEA’s chief economist Fatih Birol.
For further information:
IEA calls for phase out of $0.5 trillion fossil fuel subsidies (7-Oct)
Industrial sector should adopt carbon capture and storage, says IEA (22-Sept)
Uncertainty puts paid to global carbon market growth (3-Jun)
10 November 2011