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Monday, June 10, 2013

A difficult and dangerous trajectory

Global CO2 emissions rose 1.4 percent in 2012, and the world is on a difficult and dangerous trajectory of temperature increases between 3.6 °C and 5.3 °C – up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit, mostly in this century -  far above the international goal of limiting the rise in global to 2 degrees Celsius.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported these sobering numbers today in releasing a new report that calls on governments to “swiftly” enact four energy policies that would keep climate goals alive without harming economic growth.

Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map highlights the need for intensive – and achievable - stop-gap action on four key areas of energy policy before 2020 that can keep the 2 Degree Celsius target alive and deliver significant emissions reductions by 2020. The prescriptions "rely only on existing technologies and have already been adopted successfully in several countries”: 

  • Targeted energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport “with the additional investment required being more than offset by reduced spending on fuel bills;”
  • Limiting the construction and use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants;  
  • Sharply reduce methane emissions from the upstream oil and gas industry production and transmission; and
  • Phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies.

The study noted the natural gas-aided temporary reduction in U.S. CO2 emissions, which is being reversed as natural gas prices rise. In following IEA’s prescriptions, "no oil or gas field currently in production would need to shut down prematurely," but (d)elaying the move to a 2°C trajectory until 2020 would result in substantial additional costs to the energy sector and increase the risk of assets needing to be retired early, idled or retrofitted. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) can act as an asset protection strategy, reducing the risk of stranded assets and enabling more fossil fuel to be commercialised."

What will it take for the world to adopt IEA's commonsense solutions and get off this perilous path?

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