The Heat Is Online

IEA: Durban Time Frame Could Mean Climate Disaster

World risks climate catastrophe: IEA

Sidney Morning Herald (AU), Dec. 13, 2011

The absence of a global legally binding agreement on climate change, along with a rethink on nuclear energy, risks a failure to arrest catastrophic temperature rises, the International Energy Authority's chief economist says.

IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said the pact agreed in Durban on the weekend was good news because it was supported by and signed by all governments that need to be involved.

"However the question mark I have in my mind is I hope it wouldn't leave some of the countries not to act for the next 10 years or act efficiently which would mean ... closing the door to 2 degrees," Dr Birol told reporters in Canberra yesterday.

With Chinese emissions set to overtake Europe's by 2015 on a per capita basis and to reach OECD averages by 2030, it was vital for increasing dialogue with China, Dr Birol said.

The door would be closed on the agreed limit of a 2 degree rise in temperatures struck by countries at Copenhagen and Cancun without clean technology investment in the area of carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the coal industry.

"I wouldn't be telling you the truth if I was to say there was a very strong appetite today in the world for CCS especially because there is no carbon price to support the CCS projects," Dr Birol said.

"In order to see a major wave of efficient, clean energy technology investments coming through we have to see a legally binding agreement before to give the signal to the investors so that they go and invest in that direction."

The world was on track for a 6-degree increase by 2035 and at current infrastructure rates was using about 80 per cent of emissions needed to stay under the 2-degree trajectory.

"If, as of 2017, we do not see a major way of clean efficient technologies then the door to 2 degrees will be closed and will be closed forever," Dr Birol said.

China and India would drive 50 per cent of the future growth for global energy demand, Dr Birol said.

"Decisions which will be made in Beijing, New Delhi and Moscow will not only affect their energy markets but through trade, through prices, the entire world."

US President Barack Obama's move to introduce fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks would result in downward pressure on demand and reliance on oil in the nation, Dr Birol said.

By 2015 Europe would be the largest oil importer but would soon be joined by China.

If Arab countries moved to defer investment in oil projects by a third or less, oil prices could reach $150 a barrel by 2015.

Whether the "golden age of gas" arrived depended on how well best practice was used to avoid the environmental implications on non-conventional gas, including coal seam gas.

Any major shift away from nuclear energy by Japan in the wake of the Fukushima disaster and in OECD countries would mark a further shift towards coal, renewable energy and natural gas.

The implications would mean an increase of 6.29 per cent in carbon emissions and higher energy prices stemming from less market diversification and the increased demand on coal and gas.

Russia could save a tremendous amount of energy and double its gas exports without increasing domestic production by introducing similar energy standards to OECD countries, Dr Birol said.

http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/world-risks-climate-catastrophe-iea-20111213-1os25.html