Summary: In the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2009 Climate Change Excerpt released last week, the IEA found that the ongoing financial crisis has had a significant impact on worldwide CO2 emissions, predicting a fall in CO2 emissions of as much as 3% which would be the greatest drop in 40 years. IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka goes on to explain how “this gives us a chance to make real progress towards a clean-energy future, but only if the right policies are put in place promptly.”
Comment: The impact the financial crisis has had on worldwide CO2 emissions has been huge. At first, a fall of 3% from the previous year may not seem like much, but when you consider the fact that the worldwide CO2 emissions for the last decade has increased on average by about 3% annually, a fall of 3% becomes a huge deal. In fact, the press release even states that the predicted CO2 emissions in 2020 is now 5% lower than it was calculated to be last year, and that’s without any changes in climate change policies.
The drop in CO2 emissions this year will not solve the climate change issue, but it will be a small break if, and only if, we capitalize on it and work towards the goals of the IEA’s 450 ppm Scenario (“to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse-gas emissions in the atmosphere at 450 ppm CO2-equivalent.” At these levels, the average global temperature would be within the 2 degrees Celsius margin for dangerous global warming). In the press release, Dr. Tanaka stresses the importance of a worldwide energy transformation, especially by the two major contributors of CO2 emissions, China and the United States.
The financial crisis has provided us with a little relief, but we, as a world, need to use it as a window of opportunity to get on track towards the 450 ppm Scenario. Hopefully, the world will take swift action and come to an agreement when the UN Framework Convenction on Climate Change meets at Copenhagen in December.