“Energy and Climate Change: More Action Needed”
(Montréal, Canada) — 6 December 2005
“The 2005 entry into-force of the Kyoto Protocol is a first step to tackle climate change, but much more has to be done to bring CO2 emissions down”, said Claude Mandil, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) today at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 11). The IEA reports that energy-related CO2 emissions worldwide have increased by 20.5% over 1990-2003, with fossil-based power generation and transport contributing to most of the rise. “In 2003 alone, global CO2 emissions rose by almost one billion tonnes of CO2”, Mandil added. Under current energy policies, the IEA expects global emissions to increase by 50% between now and 2030. Ministers of IEA Member countries recognised this year that they are not bound by such business-as-usual energy future; they are committed to reduce the environmental and energy security impacts of the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. The G8 leaders at their Summit in Gleneagles in July 2005 called on the IEA to carry out a number of tasks to advise them on strategies for a clean, clever and competitive energy future.
The Kyoto Protocol and beyond
The Kyoto Protocol and its flexibility mechanisms constitute a first step and an effort on the part of its signatories to introduce a least-cost approach to address this most daunting challenge for the energy systems of the world. “Emissions trading can help bring countries to compliance and will create a price signal to encourage cost-effective abatement measures”, added Mandil. While enhancing the international coordination effort to limit emissions, governments must relay the international price of traded carbon into the day-to-day energy choices of businesses and other energy users. In its recent publication Act Locally, Trade Globally – Emissions Trading for Climate Policy, the IEA analyses how international emissions trading could be broadened, with more flexible options to encourage ambitious participation.
Towards a Cleaner Energy Future
There is no “silver bullet” that will transform the energy outlook, but technologies exist that together have the potential to stem the growth of CO2 emissions, while very often improving security of energy supply at the same time. However, their contribution will require rigorous policies to reduce costs, overcome market barriers and, for some options, reduce environmental impacts. In the short to medium term it will be essential to accelerate improvements of energy efficiency. In the longer term, renewables, carbon capture and storage technologies, and nuclear (where it is accepted as an option) can play a key role in reducing the carbon intensity of energy supply. As demonstrated in the IEA’s most recent publication, Prospects for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies have the potential to eventually break the link between transport and CO2 emissions. But this will require significant reductions in cost and for the hydrogen production to be based on carbon-free energy sources or incorporate the capture and storage of CO2.
The G8 Gleneagles Summit
At the Gleneagles Summit, the IEA was asked to play a major role to help deliver the “G8 Plan of Action on climate change, clean energy, and sustainable development”. The G8 tasked the IEA with several activities over the next three years, including development of alternative scenarios to demonstrate paths towards a more sustainable energy system. Analysis of best policy practices aimed at power generation and energy use in buildings, electric appliances, surface transport and industry is another topic in the portfolio of the IEA’s G8 activities as well as CO2 capture and storage. In all areas, the potential for progress towards cleaner and more efficient energy technologies is considerable. “We intend to show how this potential can be realised at least-cost through proper policies and market instruments”, Mandil said. The analysis delivered by the IEA including through its G8 work programme will provide energy and climate policy makers with important data and insights, when they start considering the future beyond Kyoto.