Ministries with energy responsibilities must step up now to climate change mitigation and realise huge potential of energy efficiency

“On this 10th Anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol agreement, we do not feel it is the time to celebrate,” Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said today at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP13) in Bali. “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  (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.

“More than ever, we need to act now,” Mr. Tanaka stressed. “Much stronger policy action is needed everywhere to curb, stabilise and reduce man-made CO2 emissions in the foreseeable future. Plans are under way, but we don’t have any more time to lose; decisions need to be taken now and implementation has to begin immediately. This is a global problem and needs to be tackled on a global basis with the participation of all emitters.”

IEA analyses show that a different outcome is possible by exploiting the immediate benefits of energy efficiency and through the deployment of known technologies, reinforced by new technologies that will be available only with much greater effort. “Whatever the outcome of this conference and the architecture of a new climate regime will be, these must be the foundation,” Mr. Tanaka said.

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. The WEO demonstrates that by implementing policies under discussion today, CO2 emissions from OECD countries could begin declining by 2015, and global emissions would stabilise by 2025 – with energy efficiency delivering the bulk of avoided emissions. The past two Group of Eight Summits have endorsed 16 concrete recommendations by the IEA covering all energy end-uses, such as buildings (40% of OECD energy use), transport (which uses 60% of world oil) and lighting. These initiatives alone could, if implemented globally, save 5.7 Gt of CO2 by 2030 – nearly one-quarter of what needs to be accomplished globally.

“The triple-win potential of energy efficiency – higher economic performance, higher energy security and less climate change – leads to three recommendations: implement, implement, implement,” Mr. Tanaka said.

“All parts of our governments have a stake in energy,” he urged. “It is not just about the people gathered here in Bali to come to grips with the climate change challenge. To realise the tremendous potential for improvements across the board, energy efficiency needs a well designed, sustained policy push. This will pave the way for a least-cost strategy to reduce energy-related emissions in the long run.”

Abundant, secure and economical coal cannot be and is not being ignored. But the ability to use that coal in a sustainable way will depend on CO2 capture and storage (CCS).  “The IEA calls on governments to step up their support to research in CCS – its development will not happen without it,” Mr. Tanaka emphasised. He added: “We have said there is no single technology silver bullet, nor is there a single policy solution. We need them all to achieve the massive energy transformation that the climate challenge poses to us. The IEA stands ready to advise on best policy choices in light of the energy sector realities.”