World Energy Outlook 2011

The International Energy Agency (IEA), the energy body of the OECD recently issued its annual World Energy Outlook report. See here for a link and summaries.

It’s far too detailed and technical for most of us, so I’m reliant on commentary from experts like Tom Whipple. Most interesting is the shift from optimism to pessimism in the WEO in recent years. It crossed some tipping point two or three years back, going from a very sanguine view that neither oil supplies or climate was a real issue, to a recognition that both of those were real issues, and this year continues that progression into something quite alarmist.

Notably, the report now warns that we have five years left to take action on climate change: if not, then industry to be built in that period will, in itself, mean we’re locked into reaching 450ppm of CO2 equivalent, and hence the 2 Celsius rise in global temperatures widely thought to be critical.

Contrast this with the attitude of the major world governments who are now aiming for a climate agreement in 2015 or 2016 to come into force in 2020 and you can see why the IEA’s Fatih Birol is heading round the world making increasingly frantic speeches in advance of Durban, not to mention senior UN officials

I don’t think anyone a few years ago would have foreseen that the positions of these two groups would be so dramatically reversed.


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