Momentous, historic, inspired.
No, I’m not talking about the election of America’s first black president. I’m talking about the imminent release of the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2008. I said recently that this would be the most important document since the Stern Climate Change Review, and having read the executive summary (the full report is released Nov 12), I am more convinced of that than ever. The opening paragraph reads like a press release from Greenpeace or WWF:
The world’s energy system is at a crossroads. Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable — environmentally, economically, socially. But that can — and must — be altered; there’s still time to change the road we’re on.
Keep in mind that the IEA is not an environmental organisation. It a highly respected and sober international body, and its predictions and analyses are relied on by goverments the world over as the basis of their energy policies. Here’s some more:
It is not an exaggeration to claim that the future of human prosperity depends on how successfully we tackle the two central energy challenges facing us today: securing the supply of reliable and affordable energy; and effecting a rapid transformation to a low-carbon, efficient and environmentally benign system of energy supply. What is needed is nothing short of an energy revolution.
Preventing catastrophic and irreversible damage to the global climate ultimately requires a major decarbonisation of the world energy sources. On current trends, energy-related emissions of carbon-dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases will rise inexorably, pushing up average global temperature by as much as 6°C in the long term. Strong, urgent action is needed to curb these trends.
It is also worth quoting their closing paragraph in full:
For all the uncertainties highlighted in this report, we can be certain that the energy world will look a lot different in 2030 than it does today. The world energy system will be transformed, but not necessarily in the way we would like to see. We can be confident of some of the trends highlighted in this report: the growing weight of China, India, the Middle East and other non-OECD regions in energy markets and in CO2 emissions; the rapidly increasing dominance of national oil companies; and the emergence of low-carbon energy technologies. And while market imbalances could temporarily cause prices to fall back, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the era of cheap oil is over. But many of the key policy drivers (not to mention other, external factors) remain in doubt. It is within the power of all governments, of producing and consuming countries alike, acting alone or together, to steer the world towards a cleaner, cleverer and more competitive energy system. Time is running out and the time to act is now.
I will post more about this soon.