Unless drastic changes to world energy policy come about in the next five years we will witness irreversible damage through dangerous increasing temperatures due to fossil fuel emissions. These were the stark warning words from the International Energy Association, who yesterday presented their new ‘World Energy Outlook 2011’.
They say that if current policies remain the trajectory of global temperature is set to rise well beyond the safe level of 2°C up to 6°C. The world’s existing infrastructure is already producing 80% of our “allowed emissions”, say the IEA. If the world is to stay below 2C of warming, emissions must be held to no more than 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Speaking in London yesterday Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the IEA said delaying action will make it harder to reduce the impacts of climate change: “If we delay until 2017 then we will hit 2°C rise and extra generation will impact negatively. An early global agreement is essential to ‘lock-in’ the door to 2°C.”
The WEO presents a ‘450 Scenario’, relating to the maximum safe amount of carbon emissions. The IEA warn that the longer we leave transforming to low-carbon energy sources, we will end up spending a lot more to compensate for increased emissions.