Wednesday, 12 November 2008

6 Degrees of Desperation

The International Energy Agency (IEA) today released their 2008 World Energy Outlook. Here's the press presentation  and here's the executive summary. The headline message: "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." (From the exec summary).

The IEA say we need a 'rapid de-carbonisation' of the economy in which energy providers, governments and consumers will all have to make changes. I'll let you soak up the detail, if that's your thing but the message is that if we carry on with existing policies, approaches and investment models "The projected rise in emissions of greenhouse gases in the Reference Scenario puts us on a course of doubling the concentration of those gases in the atmosphere by the end of this century, entailing an eventual global average temperature increase of up to 6°C." (exec summary P9). The 'Reference Scenario' mentioned is explained on p2 of the summary. There's also plenty within the report in terms of energy availability, supply and investment but that's a whole can of worms I'm not opening today.

Six degrees warming (or 3, or 4, or 5), even if this is by the end of the next century, is not good news. The Stern Report paints it's own bleak picture of that scenario and of course, Mark Lynas talks of 'nothing less than a global wipeout' if we see 6 degrees of warming by the end of the next century. He does the same for 2, 3, 4 and 5 so there's something for everyone.

I'm not one for doomsday thinking, nor for believing we can't work to chart a different course (That's what Wales is trying to achieve) but it's worth keeping ourselves in check and reminding eachother exactly what the stakes are.

No comments: