The International Energy Agency (IEA) have expressed grave concerns with regards to the 2020 target for less than 2°C rise in global temperature, saying that at current rates it is moving further away from its target, in the report ‘Re-drawing the Energy Climate Map’.
In 2012 CO2 levels rose by 1.4%, equating to 31 billion tonnes of emissions, despite the economic downturn. This confirms that solutions to combat CO2 emissions are urgently needed whether the world economy is growing or not, which some critics of climate change have not agreed with in the past. The chief economist at IEA, Faith Birol stated “the chance of keeping to 2◦C is still technically there, but it is not very great. It is becoming extremely challenging”. The IEA has calculated that in order to reach 2020 targets, if governments act now, the new clean energy investments would cost close to $1.5 trillion, whereas if governments wait until after 2020 it would be closer to $5 trillion. The report pushes for more implementations of ways in order to meet climate change targets, particularly as they gave a warning that 2/3 of the existing fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned if emissions are due to within the projected danger threshold of a 2◦C rise. The IEA gave suggestions to governments, suggesting small focused measures including that of energy efficiency, limiting the use of coal-powered energy stations and a partial phase out of fossil fuel subsidies.
The report states that the rise in CO2 levels is also seen in relationship to a 6%rise in emissions from Japan, equalling 70 million extra tonnes of emissions, due to its phasing out of nuclear power. However, the report does show some positive aspects. Whilst emissions from China rose by approximately 300 tonnes, it was the smallest increase in two decades, reflecting China’s efforts in energy efficiency, stated Birol. Furthermore, the US decreased their emissions in 2012 by 3.8%, meaning the new levels emulated those of the mid-1990s. The decrease in emissions is a reflection of the shale gas boom, which has led to the US replacing coal. Whilst shale gas is being pushed forward as a positive new energy, Birol makes it clear that shale gas alone is not the way forward, stating “shale gas can only be helpful if we see other low-carbon technologies if we are serious about 2◦C”. This shows that renewable energy will play an ever increasing role in the battle to keep climate change to a minimum.