Speaking in London, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven (pictured) said: “Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities. But the problem is not going away – quite the opposite.”
The IEA wants to see a global temperature increase of no more than 2°C by 2020, but Ms van der Hoeven said the figure was more likely to be between 3.6°C and 5.3°C.
Yet she stressed that “much more can be done to tackle energy sector emissions without jeopardising economic growth – an important concern for many governments”.
Last year in the US, a switch from coal to gas in power generation helped cut emissions by 200 million tonnes (Mt), bringing emissions back down to mid-1990s levels. Meanwhile, China experienced the largest growth in CO2 emissions (300 Mt), “but the increase was one of the lowest it has seen in a decade, driven by the deployment of renewables and improvements in energy intensity”, says the IEA.
The IEA wants to see four measures put into policy by governments worldwide:
· Targeted energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport;
· Limiting the construction and use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants;
· Actions to halve expected methane (a potent greenhouse gas) releases into the atmosphere from the upstream oil and gas industry;
· Implementing a partial phase-out of fossil fuel consumption subsidies.