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Thursday, February 22, 2024
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 4 2015 (IPS) - While world leaders have gathered in Paris to discuss actions to reduce gas emissions and climate disasters, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is urging countries to reflect on the necessity to reform the energy sector.
“Two thirds of emissions causing climate change comes from the energy sector. Without solving the problem in the energy sector we have no chance to solve the climate problem,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, while presenting the World Energy Outlook 2015 (WEO) report on December 1, at a conference on sustainable development and access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Launched for the first time at the U.N., the report shows a detailed analysis of how the energy sector is going through a transition from fossil fuels, such as coal, gas and oil, to renewable energy – hydro power, wind and solar.
In his opening remarks, Mohinder Gulati, Chief Operating Officer for the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Forum, said: “The WEO 2015 is not simply an analysis of the energy sector, but it positively influences the thinking of leaders in the energy sector and policy makers worldwide.”
According to the report, renewables contributed to almost half of the world’s new power generation capacity in 2014 and have already become the second-largest source of electricity, after coal. In turn, for the first time in history, fossil fuels prices are declining.
“In 2015, investments in the oil sectors declined more than 20 percent, and will continue to decline in 2016, with serious implications for the market and for energy security threats,” explained Birol.
Data from the report shows that in 2014, 50 percent of all new power plants accounted for renewable energy alone. Whereas, the other 50 percent was made up of all fossil fuels – oil, coal, gas.
“This is a huge change in the power generation system, mainly because renewables are becoming cost competitive,” remarked the IEA Executive Director. Not only there is an ongoing transition in the energy supply, but also in the energy demand growth.
Recently, China’s coal consumption, one of the largest in the world, has sharply declined as the overall economy growth has slowed down, along with a lower demand for energy, says the WEO2015 research.
The same is happening for advanced economies such as Europe, United States and Japan, which are richer and are able to use more efficiently a reduced amount of energy consumption.
Instead, “In the future, the main drivers of energy consumption will be emerging economies in south-east Asia, such as Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines,” predicted Birol, adding that in these countries, governments are reforming fossil fuels subsidies and opting for new energy efficiency policies, which are more beneficial and cost-effective.
“Energy efficiency policies” – said Birol – “will have implications for the environment and for oil consumption, and will slow the demand for energy, by making countries richer and the environment safer.”
According to the IEA figures, in 2014, China’s renewable energy investments were larger than all European countries, plus United States and Japan, put together.
However, China’s leadership in the global energy demand growth will soon be handed over to India, which has a fast growing economy, and therefore the demand for energy consumption is very high.
In India it is expected that the number of the urban population will grow up to 300 million people in the next 20 years, says the IEA document, which will put even more pressure on the already 250-300 million people who are still living without electricity.
Therefore, the transition in the energy sector towards clean energy is vital in relation to the Climate Change Convention, or COP21, as it clearly shows a commitment by most world countries to reduce their greenhouse emissions in order to limit the rising global temperature to no more than two degrees celsius.
“If the global temperature goes higher than two degrees, as scientists expect it to reach 2.7 degrees celsius, the implications will be catastrophic, especially for Africa and India […] The IEA hopes that the Paris pledges are cemented, with a concrete push towards new investments in renewables, advanced energy technology, energy efficiency and reforms of the energy subsidies,” concluded Birol.
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