Energy consumption is tied closely in to climate change issues, with the burning of fossil fuels impacting on global CO2 levels in particular. This makes the prospect of an ever increasing demand for more and more energy a bleak picture for the environment in the future indeed.
So when the International Energy Agency warned that an anticipated 50% increase in energy needs by 2030 would be served largely by coal reserves, there was an outcry from scientists and climate change advisers.
Who Are The International Energy Agency?
The International Energy Agency, or IEA, is a worldwide advisory body providing information to governments across world about all things energy related. This includes long-term analysis of the world’s energy requirements, and projections on how this need will be served – in other words, the level of non-renewable and renewable energy sources needed for the world’s commerce, industry and individuals.
Anticipated Growth In Energy Needs
According to the IEA’s chief executive, Nobuo Tanaka, energy needs – if left unchecked by governments across the world – would rise by 50% by 2030 alone, and this need could only be realistically provided by coal reserves. This could have devastating effects on global CO2 levels and undo the global efforts to help fight climate change. If levels of energy creation from coal raised by this amount, the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere as a result of this would rise by a staggering 57% – from 27 giga tonnes to 42 giga tonnes a year.
The Rise Of Industrialising Nations
Much of the increase in anticipated energy growth can be attributed to the industrialisation and economic development of several large countries – most notably India and China, whose joint populations total two billion. Levels of energy would need to complement a changing fortune for these two nations.
According to Mr Tanaka: ” The emergence of new major players in global energy markets means that all countries must take vigorous, immediate and collective action to curb runaway energy demand… rapid economic development will undoubtedly continue to drive up energy demand in China and India… this is a legitimate aspiration that needs to be accommodated and supported by the rest of the world.”
The Alternative Policy Scenario
The outlook for energy was somewhat less negative after the IEA took into consideration the various different long-term policies and commitments different nations had taken in order to curb their carbon footprint and reduce overall energy needs – including binding protocols such as the Kyoto treaty. Projections using these figures then suggest that CO2 emissions from energy would rise by 25% by 2030. This is still a worrying increase but halves the worst case scenario picture, which was based on nothing being done to check energy consumption.
A Global Solution To The IEA’s Warning
There is, according to the IEA, the possibility to stabilise energy consumption at 2005 levels by 2030 – but that solution needs to be implemented globally and quickly. This includes an increased reliance of nuclear energy and more investment into CO2 storage technology.
It’s a stark warning from the IEA, and is yet another reason why governments need to act on climate change now. Here in the UK, the climate change bill was announced in parliament, a binding commitment to reduce overall CO2 emissions, to the backdrop of this news. Elsewhere, other parts of the world are also beginning to act accordingly.