12 Nov 2012 | 14:02 GMT | Posted by Richard Van Noorden | Category: Earth, environment & ecology, Energy
The International Energy Agency (IEA) today implored policy-makers to focus on energy efficiency measures, to buy a little time before the world resigns itself to global warming of more than 2 °C.
Presenting the agency’s 2012 World Energy Outlook in London, the IEA’s chief economist Fatih Birol told reporters that he could see a “growing momentum in many countries to push the energy efficiency button”, but also that energy efficiency remained an “epic failure” in most nations’ energy policies. “The chances are slimmer and slimmer of avoiding a 2 °C rise,” he said. The IEA likes to talk about the time when existing factories, buildings and cars will ‘lock in’ greenhouse gas emissions that will push atmospheric carbon dioxide above 450 parts per million, the target thought to give an even chance of limiting global warming to 2 °C. Last year, it projected that time would come by 2017. Today, the agency said that energy efficiency measures could push the lock-in date out five years to 2022.
Asked why nations were not concentrating on energy efficiency, Birol said it was because governments were not sufficiently organized to push these policies. Energy ministries were often left to tackle the problem alone; but they needed to work together with policy-makers in the areas of finance, construction, industry and transport, he said. “Climate change is slipping down the agenda, and the costs of inaction are rising,” he added.
But Birol, keen to concentrate on energy efficiency, pointed out that America’s increasing oil independence was not just because of its greater production of unconventional oil. Almost 45% of the nation’s projected drop in oil imports would come down to new automobile efficiency standards announced by president Barack Obama last year, he said.