IEA Shows Past, Present and Future of Energy and Climate Change

What progress are we making in combating climate change? What is the energy role? How bad is the problem, what methods are we using to bring about change and finally, what can we do better or differently? The International Energy Agency (IEA) today presented three new publications that provide some answers to these questions. "The publications show that IEA Member countries are taking climate change seriously and have implemented numerous climate mitigation policies," said Robert Priddle, Executive Director of the IEA. "More needs to be done. Current policies must be augmented to achieve the emission reductions required under the Kyoto Protocol and even more action will be required to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere." But technologies exist that could make a difference, Mr. Priddle added. "In addition, policy choices can be found, making full use of the innovations developed to implement the Kyoto protocol, and recognising the economic realities of the energy sector, which contribute more fully to greenhouse gas emissions mitigation."

These books put the IEAs best and most current information at the disposal of those who need it, notably delegates and observers at the Eighth Conference of the Parties (COP-8) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in New Delhi from 23 October to 1 November. Accurate measurement is critical and correctly assessing a problem is half the solution. A retrospective view is provided by "CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion: 1971 - 2000" which contains comprehensive and detailed statistics of CO2 emissions associated with energy practices around the world. The volume features country tables for more than 130 countries, and summary tables for key regional and political groupings. With global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2000 13% higher than in 1990, this study shows there is no room for complacency. Annex I Parties still account for the majority of emissions: 13.7 Gt CO2 against 8.9 Gt for the developing world. Annex I per capita emissions are still six times larger than non-Annex I per capita emissions. Total energy-related CO2 emissions for developed countries (Annex I) were only 1.1 % higher than their 1990 level in 2000 and if other greenhouse gases and sinks are counted, these countries could have collectively achieved their goal of returning emissions to 1990 levels. But this relatively low increase is for the most part due to a 30 % reduction in emissions of countries with economies in transition. Countries are working to tackle their greenhouse gas emissions. But how are national climate strategies developing?

Since 1999, the IEA in collaboration with Member countries continually collects, reviews and classifies information on greenhouse gas mitigation measures taken in the energy sector. Now, with more than 800 records, the "Dealing with Climate Change" project is one of the most extensive sources of policy information on the subject and this three-year record offers an increasingly accurate picture of what is being done. The publication "Dealing with Climate Change: Policies and Measures in IEA Member Countries" provides a comprehensive listing of new or modified policies taken or planned by IEA Member countries in 2001 in order to reduce damage to the climate system. The ultimate goal of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Recent IEA projections incorporating these policies show that the actions being taken by Member countries will be only a first step to reaching this goal. "Beyond Kyoto: Energy Dynamics and Climate Stabilisation" suggests how negotiators might address this longer-term objective on a global basis, with due regard for the uncertainties and cost: aiming at low GHG concentrations, but making achievement of these targets conditional on actual costs. "We have to find a way to help all countries adopt commitments, with fewer concerns about unknown costs or constraints on economic development", concluded Robert Priddle.