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Revolution now

Radical solutions call to reverse carbon levels

A call for governments to adopt a ‘global energy technology revolution’ has been made in a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The report, entitled ‘Energy Technology Perspectives 2008′ indicates that if countries continue with their existing policies, global carbon emissions will rise by 130 per cent while oil demand will increase by 70 per cent by 2050.


While countries have recently been more receptive to recognising that there is a problem with sustainable development, they are still far from initiating any action to reverse this trend, the report says.
It proposes radical changes to the way the world is using its energy supplies, including a ‘virtual decarbonisation of the power sector’. While the IEA is in favour of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, it stresses that no single form of energy or technology is capable of providing a final solution. Instead, it highlights a mix of alternatives including renewables, nuclear energy, carbon-free transport and improved energy efficiency.
IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka warned that a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 will pose a “formidable challenge” to countries. “It will essentially require a new global energy revolution which would completely transform the way we produce and use energy,” he said.
He adds that this could be very hard to achieve seeing as the developed world’s economy is set to grow four-fold by 2050, while developing countries such as India and China are looking at a ten-fold increase. This naturally brings more use of energy with it, which will create unsustainable pressure on natural resources, said Tanaka, calling for “urgent and necessary” action, with whichever remedial option is chosen.
The Commission says it is “open” to a discussion on how the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and EU state aid guidelines could be leveraged to fund the development of up to 15 carbon capture and storage (CCS) demonstration plants by 2020. But experts continue to diverge on the best way to raise the necessary cash.

The remarks were made by Piotr Tulej, head of unit for energy and environment in the Commission’s environment service (DG Environment). Tulej spoke at a workshop on CCS financing hosted by UK Liberal MEP Chris Davies, Parliament’s rapporteur on the Commission’s proposed directive to establish a legal framework for the storage of CO2 in underground geological formations.
Davies favours using the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) as one option for freeing up money for the development of CCS demonstration plants. Under such an approach, installations using CCS would receive double or even multiple ETS credits for each tonne of CO2 captured and stored. These credits could then be sold on the EU’s carbon market.
But experts who spoke at the workshop were divided on whether or not this is the best way to proceed, with some raising concerns that such a mechanism would “wreck” the ETS.