IEA’s forecast on energy politics puts world at high risk of runaway global warming

Posted on 12 November 2014

GLAND, Switzerland -- On the same day that the world’s two biggest carbon emitters announced reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions, a new report shows that the world remains at high risk of global warming of at least 3.6°C. The finding comes in the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2014.
Commenting on the report, Samantha Smith, leader of WWF’s global Climate and Energy Initiative, said while WWF doesn’t agree with all of the IEA’s projections, proposals and assumptions, “where we do find common ground is the fact that that an increase in global warming will be extremely detrimental to the health and well-being of many poor and vulnerable people, low-lying island states, coral reefs, and nature at large.”
“The report also warns that unless policies change fundamentally, large parts of the developing world, mainly in Africa, will remain in dire energy poverty while in other regions stifling air pollution from burning fossil fuels will affect health,” said Smith.
World leaders meeting in Australia this weekend for the G20 meeting must seize the positive political momentum generated by today’s announcement by China and the United States by eliminating the US$88 billion in subsidies that go each year to find more fossil fuels, the main cause of climate change, according to Smith.
Dr Stephan Singer, director for global energy policy for WWF, said another concerning finding was that despite the projected growth of renewables in the IEA scenarios, clean energy will not come close to comprising at least the majority of all fuels in the next decades.
“The IEA correctly blames high fossil fuel subsidies and the lack of political will to curtail investments in fossil fuels; this is a key element torpedoing prioritisation of renewables and energy efficiency,” he said.
“We agree with the IEA that we have the technology and reliability to decarbonise our energy sector. The real need now is for increased political action – in particular as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  has shown that a non-fossil energy development is at worst no more expensive than the conventional carbon-intensive pathway,” said Singer.
Despite criticising the high costs, technological barriers, environmental impacts and low social acceptance of carbon capture and storage (CCS), nuclear and ‘low-carbon’ shale gas, the IEA unfortunately does not embrace a full renewable energy pathway combined with highest energy efficiency as one viable energy development option.

“WWF urges that a true international energy agency must exactly do that,” said Singer.
Despite projected growth of renewables, clean energy will not come close to comprising at least the majority of all fuels in the next decades.
© WWF / Chris Martin BAHR