International Energy Agency Urges Action on Climate

by Erica Peterson on November 14, 2011

An international energy organization is warning that action on climate change can’t be put off. The agency’s new report makes the case for spending money for energy upgrades now, rather than later.

The International Energy Agency publishes its World Energy Outlook every year—it’s an analysis of the world’s energy mix and projections of what’s to come. This year, the news wasn’t good.

The agency is predicting the world will produce record amounts of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years, and the CO2 will permanently raise the average temperature by 3.5 degrees Celsius.

But according to the report, it’s already too late to do anything about most of that carbon. Eighty percent of it is attributed to existing power plants and factories.

In a news conference last week, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven says countries need to reverse course on many energy initiatives.

“If there is one overriding message that comes out of the report, it is that without an urgent and radical change of policy direction, the world risks locking itself into an unsustainable energy future,” she said.

Van der Hoeven says the outlook demonstrates “very clearly that governments need to introduce much stronger measures than they currently envisage,” she said. “We must drive forward investment in efficient, low-carbon technologies to make energy supply more secure and prevent potentially catastrophic climate change.”

The report stresses the importance of investing in cleaner energy now, rather than later. It estimates that $1 of investment in new technology now will cost more than $4 after 2020 to compensate for increased carbon dioxide emissions.

The report also notes increases in renewable energy and natural gas usage, and predicts the percentage of the world’s energy generated by natural gas will be on par with coal in the next 20 years.

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