Action needed to meet climate change challenge

Oil and gas companies and other energy producers are being looked to for assistance in finding a solution to the climate change problem, an energy expert said at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali.

Dec 13th, 2007

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Dec. 13 -- Oil and gas companies and other energy producers are being looked to for assistance in finding a solution to the climate change problem, an energy expert said at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali.

"Much stronger action is needed everywhere to curb, stabilize, and reduce man-made [carbon dioxide] emissions. We don't have any time to lose. Decisions need to be taken now and implementation has to begin immediately," said Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency. "The cost of inaction will be high otherwise," Tanaka said.

Climate change, said Tanaka, "is a global problem and needs to be tackled on a global basis with the participation of all emitters."

"For a start, all parts of governments with energy responsibilities must rapidly engage in designing effective policies," he said.

"To realize the tremendous potential for improvements across the board, energy efficiency needs a well-designed and sustained policy push," Tanaka said, adding, "This will pave the way for a least-cost strategy to reduce energy-related emissions in the long run."

He said, "CO2 emissions are already some 20% higher today than in 1997 and are set to increase even further and faster." He referred to the IEA World Energy Outlook 2007—China and India Insights (WEO), showing that, absent new policies, energy-related carbon emissions will increase by almost 60%, reaching 42 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2030. This is higher than last year's projection by 1.5 Gt because of much greater coal use than expected, driven by high oil and gas prices. Despite many ambitious policy instruments and rising energy prices, emissions continue to rise in IEA countries.

IEA analyses show that a departure from current trends is possible by exploiting the immediate benefits of energy efficiency and deployment of known technologies, reinforced by new technologies that will only be available with much greater effort.

Year on year, IEA projections reinforce the critical role that energy efficiency and a better use of our resources can deliver on climate, energy security, and welfare. WEO demonstrates that by implementing policies under discussion today, CO2 emissions from OECD countries could begin declining by 2015; global emissions would stabilize by 2025, with energy efficiency delivering the bulk of avoided emissions.

The past two G8 Summits have endorsed 16 IEA recommendations covering all energy end-uses, such as buildings (40% of OECD energy use), transportation (using 60% of world oil), and lighting. If implemented globally, these initiatives alone could save 5.7 Gt of CO2 by 2030—nearly a quarter of what we need to accomplish.

"The triple-win potential of energy efficiency—higher economic performance, higher energy security, and less climate change—leads to three recommendations: implement, implement, implement," Tanaka said. This is required "for developed and emerging economies alike," he added.

More in General Interest