8 Apr 2011

Are tough economic times and disaster warnings undermining the IEA’s credibility?

Written by aspowell

The International Energy Agency is urging nations to scrap traditional fuel subsidies and replace them with “transparent, predictable and adaptive incentives for cleaner, more efficient energy options.” Despite the dramatic imbalance between the two — $312 billion US versus $57 billion — economically challenged industrial countries and the fastest growing developing countries don’t seem to be listening, if they’re paying any attention at all.

To some, the IEA is crying wolf, and perhaps for good reason. The growth of coal and natural gas to generate much-needed electricity around the world at the lowest cost today is drowning out the value that renewables can deliver in terms of their sustainability, future cost reductions and zero no risk of supply disruptions. That said, an IEA report acknowledged there are several signs that austerity measures adopted by some governments are weakening support for renewables.

The IEA presented the report and its recommendations at the just-concluded Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi this week became the permanent seat of the International Renewable Energy Agency, or IRENA.

“Achieving sustainable energy goals will require a doubling of all renewable energy use by 2020,” the IEA report said. “Even if countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) somehow drove their emissions to zero, on today’s path emissions from non-OECD countries would still lead to environmental disasters on an epic scale.”

Distasters on an epic scale? Really?

If reports by major news outlets are any sign of the relevance of this Ministerial meeting after the inaugural event in the U.S. in 2010, this 2011 version was a bust. Neither Reuters nor The New York Times had carried reports since energy ministers headed home Thursday (April 7).

Energy ministers gathered in Abu Dhabi for the 2nd annual Clean Energy Ministerial. Credit: Clean Energy Ministerial


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