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World: Energy Watchdog Says Policies Not Sustainable

  • Valentinas Mite

An oil-field worker in Iraq (AFP) The International Energy Agency is warning the world to change its energy consumption habits or face disaster. In its World Energy Outlook report issued on Monday, the Paris-based energy watchdog says energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions will soar by more than 50 percent over the next quarter century if consumers keep burning oil at current rates. Such an outcome would deal a blow to international efforts to curb gas emissions blamed for global warming.

Prague, 8 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The International Energy Agency (IEA) is warning that energy prices will continue to rise and pollution will worsen unless there are major changes in global energy policy.

In an interview with RFE/RL, Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, explains the reasons behind the agency's grim
predictions: "The big majority of the global population [of about 5.5 billion people will in the future get its oil and gas] from very few countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and the others. So this makes us a bit nervous given the volatility, the political volatility of those countries. This is a bit of unwanted message."
Renewable energy is energy produced by wind, water, or sun. Teske says it's these kinds of sources that can help
governments avert the "horror scenario" envisaged in the IEA's latest report.


In the Middle East itself, domestic energy demand will more than double, driven by surging populations, economic growth, and heavy energy subsidies.

At the same time, oil production in that region is expected to increase 75 percent by 2030 and natural-gas production will
triple. The IEA expects the region's share in global oil production to increase from 35 percent today to 44 percent in
2030.

The Paris-based watchdog is made up of 26 leading industrialized nations. Its report says that under current consumption trends, demand will rise by more than 50 percent over the next 25 years. The prices will also go up.

But Birol says the main victim of all this will be the environment: "With the current policies in place, carbon dioxide emissions, which are a major cause for the environmental damage, for climate change, are going to increase substantially in the future."

So what can be done to avoid this gloomy future?

First, the IEA urges boosting investment in oil facilities. It says the world has seen "years of underinvestment" in both oil
production and the refinery sector.

The organization estimates that the global oil industry needs to invest more than $20 trillion in new facilities by 2030 or the global economy could suffer.

But, at the same time, Birol says the world must get onto a sustainable energy path: "They [the governments] should change energy policies. They should first of all use energy more efficiently -- in cars, in electrical equipment at home or in the industrial sector. We should use energy much more efficiently, much more carefully."

Greenpeace, the environmental group, welcomed the report as a first effort in assessing the world's energy situation.

However, Sven Teske, who leads Greenpeace's campaign for renewable energy, tells RFE/RL that the report is too
pessimistic. He says renewable energy is being developed and this trend cannot be ignored.

"Most renewable energy sources are cheaper than conventional [ones]," he said. "The International Energy Agency woke up a little bit, but unfortunately they underestimate significantly the possibilities we have in renewable energy."

Renewable energy is energy produced by wind, water, or sun. Teske says it's these kinds of sources that can help
governments avert the "horror scenario" envisaged in the IEA's latest report.
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