Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The IEA Awakes

It's been a busy week already with the Renewable Energy Conference in town. On the first night, I hosted the "2020 Vision Dinner" and I gave my annual vision speech. And tonight, I'm speaking to a Peak Oil group. It should be an interesting evening. It's easy to get everyone excited about Peak Oil when a barrel of oil is approaching $150.00 and a gallon of gas is pushing five dollars.

But with gas stations sporting signs that say $2.00 dollars, and a barrel of oil trading in the fifties all day, you've got to wonder if anyone will be at the meeting. I mean think about it, Brent crude closed at $51.00 today. That's $94.00 dollars under this summers high.

Well, while trying to come up with something to say to this group, I noticed that the International Energy Agency has come out with their Energy Outlook report today. And it's not the "everything is hunkey dorey" outlook that we're used to seeing from this group. There seems to be a bit of panic in their words. (not that it's not about time)

Here's the opening of the Executive summary:

The world’s energy system is at a crossroads. Current global trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable — environmentally, economically, socially. But that can — and must — be altered; there’s still time to change the road we’re on.

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. (clip)

Preventing catastrophic and irreversible damage to the global climate ultimately requires a major decarbonisation of the world energy sources. On current trends,energy-related emissions of carbon-dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases will rise inexorably, pushing up average global temperature by as much as 6°C in the long term.

Strong, urgent action is needed to curb these trends. The 15th Conference of the Parties, to be held in Copenhagen in November 2009, provides a vital opportunity to negotiate a new global climate-change policy regime for beyond 2012 (the final year of coverage of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol).

The conference will need to put in place a framework for long-term co-operative action to bring the world onto a well-defined policy path towards a clear, quantified global goal for the stabilisation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It will also need to ensure broad participation and put in place robust policy mechanisms to achieve the agreed objective.

What is needed is nothing short of an energy revolution.

This World Energy Outlook demonstrates how that might be achieved through decisive policy action and at what cost. It also describes the consequences of failure."

As the Oil Drum states, "This report is a step in the right direction for conveying our rapidly deteriorating energy situation to world policymakers - the IEA should be commended for making the turn and finally acknowledging: costs, investment limitations, new capacity requirements, steep decline rates of existing wells, and externalities (in this case GHGs).

In effect, this report shatters the global illusion that oil resources magically turn into cheap flow rates. "

Yes, the IEA has awakened.

And has now called for an Energy Revolution.

With a new American President,

And the new policies that he will bring,

Who knows?

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