Thursday, April 18, 2013

No Progress Made In Reducing CO2

The world has made almost no progress over the past 20 years in reducing the carbon content of its energy supplies, despite more than $2 trillion of investment into renewable-energy projects such as wind and solar power, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).  The lack of CO2 reduction is largely because of coal's continued dominance as a fuel for electricity generation, the IEA said. As energy consumption has grown, this means total global emissions of CO2 rose 44% from 1990 to 2010.

The IEA estimates that a cut in carbon emissions per unit of energy of more than 60% is needed to prevent global average temperatures rising by more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in the long term, and maintaining current levels would yield a temperature rise of 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coal has been preferred in fast-growing Asian economies for decades because it is relatively
inexpensive and abundant, the IEA said, and coal-fired generation "has far outpaced" the significant increase from non-fossil energy.  China and India accounted for 95% of the growth in global coal demand in 2000 to 2011, the IEA said.

Even in Europe, which has some of the world's most ambitious emissions-reduction targets, coal use is rising, the IEA said. In Europe's largest economy, Germany, CO2 emissions edged higher last year as more coal was burned because it was cheaper than natural gas, according to the government's federal environmental agency.

The IEA warned that little is happening to mitigate the environmental impact of coal's continued dominance in power generation. Many new coal-fired power plants continue to use inefficient technologies, offsetting measures to close some older and dirtier plants. Projects to develop the technology that would allow the capture and storage of carbon emitted by power plants have made little progress, it added. (WSJ, 4/17/2013)

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