The chief economist at the
International Energy Agency sees catastrophic consequences for the planet if
governments fail to take more immediate and decisive action to combat global
Fatih Birol, one of the world's most respected energy experts, told the Guardian newspaper that greenhouse gas emissions were continuing to rise so fast that waiting much longer to replace the Kyoto protocol would set the earth on a path to 5C of warming, which he said would be "catastrophic." Current efforts are aimed at keeping temperature increases to 2C.
Birol's comments come as climate negotiators are meeting in Bonn, Germany trying to develop targets for adoption by 2015, which would then go into effect by 2020. The IEA has calculated that making necessary clean energy investments now would cost about $1.5 trillion. Investments after 2020 to meet climate targets would cost $5 trillion.
The latest IEA report shows that the U.S. has reduced its carbon emissions by 3.8%. China, still the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, has recorded its smallest increase in two decades. But China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies now account for 60% of global emissions, up from 45% in 2000. Industrialized nations want these nations to take on more responsibility.
Birol said low cost ways governments could take urgent action on improving energy efficiency would be to replace fossil fuels with low-carbon power, stop the construction of inefficient power plants and phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
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