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International Energy Agency: Rising Fossil Energy Use Will Lead To Irreversible & Potentially Catastrophic Climate Change

2011/11/10

The International Energy Agency released the 2011 World Energy Outlook yesterday.  What is almost as interesting as the report itself is the coverage of it in the MSM.

Here’s a summary of the report by the IEA itself in this video featuring Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist at the International Energy Agency. At 2:49 of this summary Mr. Birol says

“Climate change: a crucial topic for the WEO. Then we look at the infrastructure of the energy sector, and we look at current investments. We see the risk of our energy sector being locked in and we have very little room to maneuver. We try to define it.”

Locked in to a dirty energy future indeed, thanks to the intransigence and greed of the fossil fuel industry. And yet, here is what the coverage of the WEO in the Vancouver Sun looked like yesterday. Entitled “Much-criticized oilsands key to global energy growth, international agency says”,  Peter O’Neil writes:

Alberta’s oilsands provide one of the world’s few areas of energy production growth outside the volatile Middle East and North Africa, though environmental concerns could hinder its expansion, the International Energy Agency said in a report Wednesday.

Quite the spin job, about a report that clearly states “the world is at risk of being locked into an ‘insecure, inefficient and high-carbon energy system’ that will lead to average temperature increases of 3.5 C“. The oil sands are part of that insecure and inefficient system.  Even the Calgary Herald, in the heart of oil country, was more honest with its headline for the same article by O’Neil, “Environmental concerns may hinder oilsands: IEA“.

Here’s what Think Progress’s Joe Romm had to say about the report:

IEA’s Bombshell Warning: We’re Headed Toward 11°F Global Warming and “Delaying Action Is a False Economy”:

The International Energy Agency has issued yet another clarion call for urgent action on climate.  Their 2011 World Energy Outlook [WEO] release should end once and for all any notion that delay is the rational course for the nation and the world.

The UK Guardian‘s headline captures the urgency:

World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns

If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will ‘lose for ever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change

We must start aggressively deploying clean energy now through myriad policies, including a price on carbon.  That has been the conclusion of most authoritative studies, of course,  including the recent one by California’s independent state science and technology advisory panel (see “Study Confirms Optimal Climate Strategy: Deploy, Deploy, Deploy, Research and Develop, Deploy, Deploy, Deploy“).

Yes, that graphic from the International Energy Agency says that Without further action, by 2017, all CO2 emissions will be “locked-in” by the existing infrastructure. As Romm says, the time has come to “deploy, deploy, deploy”, the same way economies were changed overnight in the face of World War II.  Who will lead?  Romm says we need a Churchill; perhaps he’s right. But maybe, for this global challenge, it’s the 99% that will provide the momentum for this change. Perhaps we don’t need one Churchill – we need thousands, or millions of Churchills, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther Kings, Ghandis, Wangari Maathais, etc.
More links:
Get empowered and work to create the political will for a sustainable climate – become a Citizens Climate Lobby volunteer.
Think Progress.org
Globe and Mail: International Energy Agency Calls For Price on Carbon

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 2011/11/10 7:36 pm

    It may be the first “do or die” humanity ever faced. With the cold war, there has been a vivid fear of global self-destruction, but it was rather “don’t do or die”.

    I am not optimistic. The current leaders in the US in Canada are so deep into delusion.

  2. Christine permalink*
    2011/11/10 8:08 pm

    I’m not optimistic, Jay, but I am hopeful because I chose to be. After so many setbacks, it’s great to savour today’s decision re: KXL. We, the 99%, need to claim our power. Life’s a mystery, and sometimes miracles happen!

    • 2011/11/10 8:44 pm

      Whatever happens, we still have the power of our own actions, to make this world better around us. That’s meaningful.

  3. 2011/11/11 9:37 pm

    My stomache just flipped just now, reading that quote from the UK Gaurdian. I knew it was true, it just hard to see it again in print.

    As for misleading headlines on the IEA report, the Edmonton Journal’s was this:

    “World needs oilsands: Report”.

    Blah.

    Did you read Naomi Klein’s article in the National? It outlines what we need to do:
    http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate

    the 99% need to read this!

  4. Christine permalink*
    2011/11/11 9:47 pm

    I know what you mean – that headline is enough to leave any parent reeling. And I guess I missed the Journal’s spin on the report – yikes!! I thought it usually did better than the Herald, but I guess not.
    Great article by Klein (as usual). Have you read “Merchants of Doubt” yet, Sherry? It explains a great deal about neoliberals and their climate denying (it threatens their whole world view, that capitalism & deregulation trumps everything, even scientific truth)

  5. Christine permalink*
    2011/11/11 9:53 pm

    OMG – check out this Fox “News” report on the IEA – is climate change real or an attack on capitalism?
    http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201111110012

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