WWF appeals to IEA to focus on a fully renewable energy future

November 9th, 2011 by WWF

A Dutch coal-fired power station produces copious quantities of carbon dioxide - a greenhouse gas (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

The World Energy Outlook 2011, released today by International Energy Agency (IEA) has shown the ever-growing impact of fossil fuels on the environment and the impact of high and volatile fossil fuel prices on economies, but fails to follow through with a strong emphasis on energy efficiency and renewable energy as the global escape route from these dilemmas, WWF has said.

“WWF particularly questions the crucial assumption that global oil prices in 20 years will be only slighter higher than today,” said Samantha Smith, Leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative.

“Three billion new consumers are coming on line from emerging economies. If they use fossil fuels at the same rates as consumers do today, oil prices will go through the roof – as will CO2 emissions.”

“WWF thinks that renewable energy is the future, and the key to true energy and climate security. The IEA assumes that by 2035, about half of all new power capacity will come from renewables. This is business as usual – we could get there from today’s trends. But as WWF’s Energy Report shows, we could get to 100% renewable by 2050.”

The IEA also shows that in order to replace high-carbon coal, a dash for low-carbon gas – alone and in the absence of other measures to promote energy conservation and renewables – may put the world on a global warming trajectory for over 3.5ºC, a substantial overrun of the global agreement that the world should be kept within 2ºC global warming.

“The IEA has been a leader in highlighting the link between fossil fuels and climate change,” said Ms Smith. “We’d like to see it maintain this leadership, and focus more on a fully renewable energy future.”

The WEO also shows that providing clean, affordable and reliable energy to the poor is entirely within reach. It would cost less than $US50 billion per year to bring basic and renewable energy services to the approximately three billion people worldwide who currently lack them. By comparison, oil imports for the EU and US combined cost 12 times as much. The WEO also shows that fossil fuel subsidies for consumers, currently at $US400 billion provide few benefits for the poor.

“The IEA thankfully has debunked the myth that fossil fuel subsidies benefit the poor. Less than one-tenth of these reached the poorest 20% globally. These subsidies just pay for the middle classes’ growing energy consumption, and fire-up climate change. This money should instead pay for renewables and bringing affordable and clean energy to the people who really need it – the poor,” said Dr Stephan Singer, Director Energy Policy for WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative.

In developing countries, more than one billion people have no access to reliable electricity and more than 2.5 billion people rely on polluting and inefficient biomass and coal use for cooking and heating.


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