Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Reducing Fossil Fuel Use: The Longer We Wait the More it will Cost

Ongoing fossil fuel use has prevented us from decreasing greenhouse gases and this is increasing the cost of cutting carbon emissions. The sooner we act to decrease fossil fuel use the more we will save, the longer we wait the more it will cost.

If we want to keep temperature increases below the internationally agreed upon upper threshold limit of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) the International Energy Agency (IEA) says that we will need to see $44 trillion in investments through 2050 to decarbonize the energy sector. This represents an increase of 22 percent over their estimates of $36 trillion two years ago.

According to recent IEA reports coal use is outpacing the growth of renewable energy and the demand for crude oil is expected to be higher than originally forecast in the second half of this year.

"A radical change of course at the global level is long overdue," IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in an e-mailed statement. "Growing use of coal globally is overshadowing progress in renewable energy deployment, and the emissions intensity of the electricity system has not changed in 20 years despite some progress in some regions."

In addition to staving off the worst impacts of climate change, the IEA report indicates that investments in renewables, nuclear power and CCS would offer almost three times more benefits than it would cost. According to their calculations, spending $44 trillion would yield more than $115 trillion in fuel savings alone.

As explained in the IEA report, "the longer we wait, the more expensive it becomes to transform our energy system."

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