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Post Climate Pact, IEA Warns Fossil Fuel Trends Dire

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The odds that any climate change agreement among the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters will succeed became a little greater on Tuesday as China and the U.S. committed to slash carbon pollution in the coming decades.

It was a critical move because the world's thirst for fossil fuels continues unabated even as wind, solar and other low-carbon energy sources are coming into their prime.

The largest transformation in how people use energy across the globe by 2040 will be in the electric power sector, according to the International Energy Agency.
Credit: DCCXLIX/flickr

That message was hammered home a day after the pact was struck in the form of a dire warning from the International Energy Agency in its annual World Energy Outlook, which was released on Wednesday. The IEA said the U.S., China and the rest of the world's biggest carbon dioxide emitters are going to have to do a lot to put the brakes on climate change because the globe is still hooked on fossil fuels, and there's little indication that will change much over the next 25 years.

Conservation efforts and more use of wind and solar power probably won't slash emissions quickly enough to keep catastrophic consequences of climate change from happening even if renewables overtake coal as the leading source of electricity by 2040, which the IEA sees as one possible scenario.

The IEA did not account for any greenhouse gas emissions cuts that could come from the deal struck between the U.S. and China on Tuesday.

The agency sees global energy demand growing by 37 percent and carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels increasing by one-fifth between now and 2040 mostly because of crude oil and coal burning in Asian countries and Africa.   
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