The WWF has welcomed The International Energy Agency's (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2012 report as being strong on the need to curb CO2 emissions and keep global warming below the critical 2°C, and offering options to address this with immediate action. The annual review of energy politics, resources and investments for the IEA's 28 member countries has particular relevance for coal-rich but water scarce South Africa.
Commenting on the flagship report, Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF's Global Climate and Energy Initiative, says the warning issued to governments by the IEA in its report must be heeded. "The IEA is clearly saying it is not too late for climate action, and its strong message to governments is that they need to act now. Staying well below 2°C global warming is paramount for limiting dire climate change impacts on biodiversity, food security and vulnerable communities," says Smith.
Investing in clean renewables
The WWF is calling for the doubling of investments in renewable energy in the years to come and a global tripling in the next decade. "So it is pleasing to read that the IEA is insisting that investments in clean renewables and energy efficiency, must expand substantially in nations that have already joined the renewable energy journey, and must start immediately in those nations that are lagging behind," Smith continues.
Global director of energy policy at the WWF, Dr. Stephan Singer says the call by the IEA to cut fossil fuel subsidies and redirect the cash into clean renewables and energy conservation is a warranted warning.
The WWF shares the fundamental concern of the IEA that any efforts to curb fossil fuel subsidies in the past few years were just empty words by the G20, the club of the world's mighty nations. In 2011, fossil fuel subsidies grew even by 30% compared to 2010 and now amount to more than half a trillion $US, or the equivalent of more than twice the GDP of Indonesia, he says.
Exploration of shale gas and oil
Fossil fuel infrastructure includes new coal-fired power stations, continued exploration of unconventional fossil resources such as shale gas and shale oil, tar sands and deep sea oil. "Essentially the IEA is telling world governments that they can still can stay below 2°C warming and provide access to clean and sustainable energy for the more than three billion people in developing countries who either have no or dirty energy to use," says Singer.
WWF supports the IEA warning of the danger of using freshwater for fossil fuel production in a world already experiencing droughts and water scarcity in many parts of the dryer tropics and developing countries. Freshwater use for energy production is likely to double in the next 20 years unless fossil fuels, particularly shale gas development and unsustainable biofuel uses, are curbed substantially.
"It is almost a final nail in the coffin of the global fossil fuel industry's credibility to see the IEA very prominently highlighting the fact that about two thirds of the presently available fossil fuel reserves have to stay underground if the world is serious to stay below 2°C global warming," says Singer. "This is not only about stopping all new large fossil fuel developments such as in the Artic; this is about surrendering existing assets as well, and it is a price to pay to avoid global climate disaster."
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