The current financial crisis has provided “an unique window of opportunity” to deal with climate change, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA), said during the UN climate negotiations in Bangkok on Tuesday.
This year, energy consumption has dropped by three per cent globally, as against a historical increase of three per cent per year. “Many investments have been postponed and several of these were unsustainable; this has helped the environment,” Fatih Birol of the agency pointed out.
“The window is only open a little before Copenhagen (when the Kyoto Protocol will be renegotiated this December),” he said.
The IEA, an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) agency, advocates greenhouses gases peaking at 450 parts per million (ppm), beyond which there will be chaotic changes. Without such restrictions, emissions will rise to 1,000 ppm, leading to a six-degree temperature rise.
The IEA scenario envisages an “energy revolution” with decreased use in electricity generation and transport. Two-thirds of polluting gases emanate from the energy sector and the new mix should include renewables and nuclear. Together, these two, which now constitute 18 per cent of world energy, should rise to one-third by 2030. “Efficiency is the key,” Birol asserted.
To keep to the 450 ppm scenario, the US, which contributes half the energy consumption of OECD countries, would have to drastically curb use. India, Brazil and African countries would have to reduce their energy consumption by 16 per cent by 2020.
By that year, the costs of cutting energy use would be $400 billion globally, half of which would be borne by OECD countries and half by the others.