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IEA calls for 'technology revolution' to tackle global warming

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) June 6, 2008
The world must spend about one percent of its total income every year to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the IEA said Friday, calling for an "energy technology revolution" to curb global warming.

Unless governments act now, carbon dioxide emissions will rise by 130 percent by the middle of the century and oil demand will grow 70 percent, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report published in Tokyo.

To halve carbon dioxide emissions, the world would need to spend an additional 45 trillion US dollars on clean energy technologies by 2050 -- or 1.1 percent of average annual gross domestic product over the period, it estimated.

"There should be no doubt that meeting the target of a 50 percent cut in emissions represents a formidable challenge," Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the Paris-based IEA, told a press conference here.

"We would require immediate policy action and technological transition on an unprecedented scale. It would essentially require a new global technological revolution which would completely transform the way we produce and use energy."

Halving emissions would require on average about 35 coal and 20 gas-fired power plants every year to be fitted with the technology to capture and store the carbon dioxide they belch out, the report said.

The world would also need to build an additional 32 new nuclear power plants every year along with 17,500 wind turbines.

Tanaka noted that, according to the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, such deep emission cuts are needed to limit global warming to two to three degrees C (36 to 37 degrees F) up to the end of the century.

The IEA said no single form of energy or technology could solve the problem alone, calling for increased use of carbon dioxide capture and storage, renewable and nuclear energy and better energy efficiency.

The IEA was created as an offshoot of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development amid the first oil shocks of the 1970s to monitor the oil market and energy strategies for advanced economies.

Rich and poor nations are divided on what action to take to tackle climate change, despite growing fears that global warming could cause the extinction of some plants and animals within the century and put millions of people at risk.

Rapid economic growth in emerging countries such as China and India, as well as soaring oil and gas prices, are hampering efforts to reduce consumption of coal, a high-polluting source of energy, the IEA said.

In China and India, "huge savings have got to be made in coal (consumption). That's not going to be easy," said IEA deputy executive director William Ramsay.

"Their markets are not going to easily adopt these kinds of expensive technologies," while consumers may be unhappy paying higher prices for electricity generated by clean power sources, he said.

"You can see on the streets of India now that raising the price of energy is very dangerous politically," Ramsay added.

The Indian government has faced angry protests and strikes this week over a decision to hike fuel prices.

Oil prices struck record peaks above 135 dollars last month, up five-fold since 2003 amid supply worries and rising demand in emerging economies.

The more than 600 page IEA report was released on the eve of the start of a meeting between the energy ministers of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialised nations as well as China, India, South Korea in northern Japan.

Together the 11 countries release 65 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming. The G8 groups Britain, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States.

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Analysis: Will cutting CO2 hurt the poor?
The Dalles, Ore. (UPI) Jun 4, 2008
As the U.S. Senate continues a political tug-of-war over comprehensive climate change legislation, a number of religious groups are rallying behind the bill's poverty provisions.

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