Thursday, November 10, 2005

IEA says there's trouble ahead

Not in so many words of course. But the International Energy Agency's new Energy Forecast report makes it alarmingly clear that even if governments around the world implemented now all the measures for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources which they currently know can and ought to be implemented, ("vigorous new policy measures already being contemplated") then this would still result in a world in 2030 where carbon emissions are around 45% higher than now.

This is based on a projected growth in energy demand of 37%.

Under 'business as usual' - which necessitates US$17 trillion of investment in new resources - it would grow by 52%.

In this, their rosiest future, oil, natural gas and coal would remain the leading source of energy, meeting around three quarters of primary energy demand by 2030.

Given this amount of increase in greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere, sea levels would rise by up to 15 centimeters by 2050. This would jeopardise not just much of the world's population but also many of its nuclear power plants, which happen to be built near the coast.

But the main implication is for the predicted rise in climate-induced disasters such as storms and floods. The cost of dealing with these will impact strongly on economic growth, and therefore the ability to meet our energy demand - perhaps even the energy demand itself.

A case of a self-limiting system working by default? But the human cost of relying on this would be huge.

More: World Energy Outlook | Hadley Centre predictions

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