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IEA Report: Global Clean Energy System Possible, Necessary, Economical, Must be Rapidly Scaled Up

2 min. read

The International Energy Agency is out with an important new report, "Energy Technology Perspectives 2012: Pathways to a Clean Energy System," which argues strongly that a sustainable, clean energy system is not only possible, it's also absolutely necessary, economical, and must be scaled up as rapidly as possible. Here are a few key points from the report's executive summary:

  • "A sustainable energy system is still within reach and can bring broad benefits." These benefits include "reduce[d] dependency on imported fossil fuels or on limited domestic resources...enhance[d] energy efficiency and reduce[d] emissions in the industry, transport and buildings sectors."
  • "Investing in clean energy makes economic sense – every additional dollar invested can generate three dollars in future fuel savings by 2050."
  • "Investments in clean energy need to double by 2020." This would require "36 trillion (35%) more in investments from today to 2050 than under a scenario in which controlling carbon emissions is not a priority," but would more than pay for itself as "the fuel savings realised would outweigh the investments."
  • Rapidly increasing energy efficiency and clean energy technologies would "help cut government expenditure, reduce energy import dependency and lower emissions."
  • Current progress in achieving these goals is far too slow: "Particularly worrisome is the slow uptake of energy efficiency technologies, the lack of progress in carbon capture and storage (CCS) and, to a lesser extent, of off shore wind and concentrated solar power (CSP)."
  • Governments need to invest heavily in clean energy R&D, invest in electricity transmission capacity, and work closely together to "level the playing field for clean energy technologies," including "pricing carbon emissions and phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies" ("which in 2011 were almost seven times higher than the support for renewable energy").

The bottom line conclusions of this important new report from the International Energy Agency are ones we strongly endorse. In fact, they are exactly what we've been recommending for a long time, for a wide variety of reasons - economic, national security, environmental, etc.  So far, unfortunately, fossil-fuel-funded politicians in Congress don't seem to share this sense of urgency. But of course , as the famous saying by Upton Sinclair goes, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."