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November 07, 2007 08:58AM
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071107.wrenergy1107/BNStory/Business/columnists

Rise in global energy demands 'alarming,' IEA says
Agency's 675-page report urges 'vigorous, immediate and collective policy action by all governments' to avert climate crisis

In an unusually grim and direct warning, the International Energy Agency has predicted that the "alarming" rise in energy demand will speed up climate change, threaten global energy security and possibly create a supply crunch that will send already high prices soaring.

The agency urged governments to embrace low-carbon economies to avert a genuine energy and climate crisis. "Vigorous, immediate and collective policy action by all governments is essential to move the world onto a more sustainable energy path," said the IEA's annual World Energy Outlook (WEO), a 675-page report, released this morning in London and Paris. "There has been so far more talk than action in most countries."

In an interview before the report's release, Fatih Birol, 49, the IEA's chief economist and principal author of the WEO, called the report "the most pessimistic overview of the world [energy markets] we have ever portrayed."

He said the agency's climate and energy security fears are based on unprecedented demand growth, driven by the burgeoning Chinese and Indian economies, and governments' inability to curb energy use and the output of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. "There was a lot of talk and a lot of targets, then peanuts happened," he said.

The report barely mentions the Alberta oil sands, whose vast reserves are second only to Saudi Arabia's. The omission was no accident. In spite of their size, the IEA thinks the oil sands will amount to little more than a global rounding error as demand, now about 85 million barrels a day, rises to a predicted 116 million barrels by 2030. "By 2015, the oil sands should produce about three million barrels a day," Mr. Birol said. "That will be only about 3 per cent of total oil production. The oil sands will not, unfortunately, change the game."...........

............ In the past, the IEA has been fairly optimistic that the world's oil fields, given adequate investment - defined as many trillions of dollars in the next two decades - in reserve technology, pipeline capacity and the like, will be able to meet the relentlessly rising energy needs. This year, it changed its opinion. "Although production capacity at new fields is expected to increase over the next five years, it is very uncertain whether it will be sufficient to compensate for the decline in output at existing fields and meet the projected increase in demand," the report says. "A supply-side crunch in the period to 2015, involving an abrupt escalation in oil prices, cannot be ruled out.".................

..................The rising demand for fossil fuels, including coal, the fuel that will see the biggest increase in use, will accelerate climate change, the IEA says. In its reference-case scenario, it predicts emissions will jump by an astounding 57 per cent between 2005 and 2030, with China overtaking the United States this year as the biggest emitter. Even in the more optimistic scenario, in which carbon reduction measures considered by governments today are put into force, emissions would rise by 27 per cent................

The town of Willits in Northern California has been the one leading US community that has tried to morph themselves into a more sustainable situation regarding the outside inputs of energy and other resources that it takes to run a small town. Recent articles show that even despite thier efforts in this regard, the reality is to date, that they are still very much dependant on the greater society to keep themselves running. Sweden is a country that has been seeking very similiar goals of sustainability, but recent reports are showing also that they are experiencing the same difficulties as Willits. Our world communities have in general become so highly dependant on outside inputs of resources ( especially energy inputs ) that movement back toward more sustainable cities is showing itself to be extremely problematic and will realistically most likely never occur on any large scale until extreme shortages of resources lead to crisis situations that force alterations in how we live. Collective denial and the lure of Business As Usual practices will see societies moving forward with the endless growth paradigm, even though it is pushing all of us towards the cliffs of crisis more quickly.
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