IEA: Carbon Emissions Set to Rise Steadily

Tuesday, November 21, 2000
World energy use will grow by a steady two percent a year from now till 2020, and carbon dioxide emissions which contribute to unwanted climate change will rise at about the same rate. Most of the increases will come in developing countries. Oil, gas and coal will continue to dominate the world fuel mix. Countries that import oil and gas will grow increasingly dependent on production from OPEC members in the Middle East.

These are some of the main projections to be found in the "reference scenario" of World Energy 2000, the biennial flagship publication of the International Energy Agency. The new Outlook was launched today at the COP 6 Conference in the Dutch capital.

Robert Priddle, the IEA Executive Director, said on presenting the book: "This is a detailed portrait, warts and all, of how the energy world might develop from now till 2020. It points to a number of serious challenges. But it also shows how some adverse trends could be changed. It contains an array of relevant facts and dispassionate analysis that can help the world to understand and meet the challenges posed by the energy sector.

WEO 2000, the latest in a series of publications that have become the point of reference for the energy world, contains a number of important innovations. Previous editions were based on a "business as usual" scenario, which simply projected forward established energy trends. The "reference scenario" in this year's Outlook goes beyond that approach. It takes into account the likely effect of policies and measures to combat climate destabilization which have been adopted since 1997, the last year for which authoritative global statistics are available. WEO 2000 also offers, for the first time, a selection of "alternative cases," which trace what could happen if additional measures were taken.

The energy world depicted in the reference scenario of WEO 2000 is dynamic, expanding and rapidly changing. It assumes that the world economy will grow by 3 percent a year, that fossil fuel prices remain flat till 2010, then rise to $28 in today's money by 2020. In that event, overall energy demand will grow by 57 percent over twenty years, just slightly below the rate in recent years. CO2 emissions will swell by 60 % or 2.1 % annually - one-third from power generation. Fossil fuels - coal, oil and natural gas - will continue to provide 90 percent of the world's primary energy, although gas will displace coal in some regions. Petroleum will remain the dominant fuel, meeting 40 percent of world energy needs. Oil use will surge from 76 million barrels a day now to 115 mb/d in 2020. Nuclear power output will remain constant in absolute terms, but decline as a proportion of total energy supply as older nuclear reactors in Europe and North America are retired. New renewable energy sources will increase rapidly, from 2 percent to 3 percent of total demand.

Energy use will grow much faster in the world's poorer nations than in the rich. But rich and poor alike will come to depend heavily on a diminishing number of gas and oil suppliers. Middle East OPEC countries, which furnished 26 percent of world oil in 1997, will be called upon to produce 32 percent in 2010 and 41 percent in 2020.

Despite all the efforts made so far to reduce energy-related CO2 emissions, the WEO 2000 reference scenario sees them rising by 60 percent from 1997 to 2000, faster than energy demand and faster than in recent decades. Developing countries will account for more than two-thirds of the increase, with China's new emissions matching those of the whole OECD. Emissions from power generation will increase by more than three-quarters and those from the transport sector by nearly as much.

These projections show how much more needs to be done in the energy sector if developed and transition countries are to meet their commitments to limit greenhouse gas emissions under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol. The reference scenario foresees North American emissions 42 percent higher than the Kyoto targets by 2010. The gap would be 29 percent in the OECD Pacific region and 18 percent in Western Europe.

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