IEA Sees Dramatic Rise in Energy Consumption–and Emissions–Ahead

The International Energy Agency (IEA) offered some disheartening and potentially frightening news in its 2006 World Energy Outlook (WEO) report. Among the troublesome predictions: a 53 percent increase in energy consumption and a 55 percent increase in carbon dioxide emissions over the next quarter-century. The IEA also said that they expected the demand for oil to increase from its current 84 million barrels per day to 116 million barrels per day in the same time frame, a nearly 40 percent jump that will push the price of a barrel over $100.

The IEA is urging governments worldwide to modify and update their energy policies in a timely fashion. Their suggestions include an emphasis on greater industrial efficiency, dedication to renewable energy and biofuels, and an increased reliance on nuclear power. They’ve also called for a major commitment to and investment in technological advancement and research, including searching for reliable alternative energy sources and finding ways to curtail demand. However, they also called for a significant investment in global oil and coal facilities as well, in order to head off a potential crisis.

The economic growth of developing nations is seen as a large part of the escalating problem. By the end of this decade, China is expected to surpass the United States as the leading source of carbon dioxide emissions. China and India alone will account for 70 percent of the consumption increase. The IEA also stressed that the developing world should be involved in any actions taken to curb climate change and reduce harmful emissions, especially since developing nations will account for more than half of all emissions by 2030.

In their own press release, Greenpeace criticized the IEA and its report for being too passive and backward-thinking. Specifically, it pointed to the IEA’s reliance on coal and nuclear power plants as viable solutions and said that the IEA “grossly underestimates the ready potential of energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

Said Claude Mandil, executive director of the IEA, “The energy future we are facing today, based on projections of current trends, is dirty, insecure and expensive.”

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