IEA calls for urgent global policy responses on energy

The International Energy Agency (IEA) gave its assessments of the prospects for global energy supplies this week, and drew attention to serious concerns about energy security, investment, the environment and energy poverty.

Claude Mandil, executive director of the IEA said: “The central message of the World Energy Outlook remains an optimistic one. The Earth contains more than enough energy resources to meet demand for many decades to come. The world is not running out of oil just yet. Moreover, there is more than enough money globally to finance the large expansion of energy infrastructure that will be needed.”

However, he called for more vigorous action to “steer the global energy system on to a more sustainable path,” and called the increasing vulnerability of energy supply routes and ever increasing emissions of climate changing carbon dioxide as “symptoms of a considerable malaise in the world of energy.”

The report predicts that world primary energy demand is likely to rise by 59% from now until 2030, and that 85% of that increase will be in the form of carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Two-thirds of the demand will come from the developing world, especially China and India.

Demand for oil is predicted to expand at 1.6% a year and gas use is projected to double by 2030, largely through being the fuel of choice for electric power generation. Coal will continue to supply a fifth of the world’s energy needs, mostly in power generation and increasingly concentrated in China and India.

Nuclear power will grow very slightly, decreasing in Europe while advancing in Asia. Renewables energy will triple but will still only account for 6% of world electricity production in 2030.

The report does note that these trends are not unalterable. “What this analysis shows very clearly is that achieving a truly sustainable energy system will depend on technological breakthroughs that radically alter how we produce and use energy,” Mr Mandil said.

His comments and conclusions have angered many environmentalists.

“With this report, the IEA sends a dangerous signal to policy makers and the industry worldwide to continue to massively waste energy, burn fossil fuels and forget about climate change,” said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace International.

He said the IEA was “fixated” on old and dirty fossil fuel technologies, neglecting the ongoing boom of renewable energy technologies.

“By massively investing in available renewable and efficiency technologies and ruling out dirty and expensive nuclear and fossil fuels, a genuinely sustainable energy sector is possible. With an estimated 16 trillion dollars to be invested in the next 25 years, the world has a clear choice: either put the money in destruction or in solutions,” said Mr Vande Putte.

By David Hopkins

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