Fossil fuels continue to dominate global energy use, warns IEA

Posted at November 14, 2012 » By : » Categories : News » Comments Off on Fossil fuels continue to dominate global energy use, warns IEA

Extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output from the US is driving a change in the global energy map, but one which is still dominated by fossil fuels, warns the International Energy Agency (IEA).

According to its annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA says the global energy map is changing “dramatically” thanks to the US, which will become a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and by 2035 a net exporter in oil and largely self-sufficient in energy.

The global energy portfolio remains dominated by fossil fuels, says the IEA report, with subsidies up nearly 30% to $523 billion mainly thanks to increasing levels in the Middle East and North Africa.

But in a more positive note, renewables will become the second largest source of power generation by 2015 and will be rivalling coal by 2035.

The success of the renewables sector has also been driven by subsidies, but these – including biofuels – still only amount to some $88 billion in 2011, a fraction of that garnered by fossil fuels.

To keep up the pressure, subsidies for renewables need to amount to $4.8 billion by 2035, says the IEA. And, in fact, over half of this has already been committed to existing projects or is on the cards to meet 2020 targets.

But in a stark warning to governments around the world, Faith Birol, the IEA’s chief economist and lead author of the report says:

“Our analysis shows that in the absence of a concerted policy push, two-thirds of the economically viable potential to improve energy efficiency will remain unrealised through to 2035. Action to improve energy efficiency could delay the complete ‘lock-in’ of the allowable emissions of carbon dioxide under a 2oC trajectory – which is currently set to happen in 2017 – until 2022, buying time to secure a much-needed global climate agreement.”

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