IEA: World’s energy as ‘dirty’ now as 20 years ago

The world has made almost no progress towards cutting carbon from its energy supplies in the last 20 years and the development of clean energy is progressing too slowly to […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

The world has made almost no progress towards cutting carbon from its energy supplies in the last 20 years and the development of clean energy is progressing too slowly to tackle climate change.

That’s the warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which today suggested that despite investing trillions of dollars in renewable projects, the world’s energy is “as dirty as 20 years ago”.

Its new report ‘Tracking Clean Energy Progress’ showed the Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII) – which shows how much carbon dioxide is emitted on average to provide a given unit of energy – stood at 2.39 tonnes of carbon per tonne of oil equivalent (tCO2/toe) in 1990 and had barely moved by 2010, at 2.37 tCO2/toe. The findings show the urgent need for governments to cut emissions and limit global temperature to 2°C.

Maria van der Hoeven, IEA’s Executive Director said: “The drive to clean up the world’s energy system has stalled… As world temperatures creep higher due to ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide – two thirds of which come from the energy sector – the overall lack of progress should serve as a wake-up call.

“We cannot afford another 20 years of listlessness. We need a rapid expansion in low-carbon energy technologies if we are to avoid a potentially catastrophic warming of the planet but we must also accelerate the shift away from dirtier fossil fuels.”

The IEA suggested $5 trillion of investment would be needed worldwide by 2020 to switch to a clean energy system and government policies need to be strengthened for more energy efficiency and clean technology uptake.

There was better news on the energy sources themselves, as the report showed positive developments in solar and wind technologies, which grew by 42% and 19% last year compared to 2011.