The Azimuth Project
World Energy Outlook 2010


World Energy Outlook 2010, or WEO2010 for short, is one of a series of annual reports put out by the International Energy Agency:

The report itself is not freely available, but an executive summary is free online.


Here is the portion of their executive summary which deals with climate issues:

The commitments that countries have announced under the Copenhagen Accord to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions collectively fall short of what would be required to put the world onto a path to achieving the Accord’s goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 2 °C. If countries act upon these commitments in a cautious manner, as we assume in the New Policies Scenario, rising demand for fossil fuels would continue to drive up energy-related CO2, emissions through the projection period. Such a trend would make it all but impossible to achieve the 2 °C goal, as the required reductions in emissions after 2020 would be too steep. In that scenario, global emissions continue to rise through the projection period, though the rate of growth falls progressively. Emissions jump to just under 34 gigatonnes (Gt) in 2020 and over 35 Gt in 2035 — a 21% increase over the 2008 level of 29 Gt. Non-OECD countries account for all of the projected growth in world emissions; OECD emissions peak before 2015 and then begin to fall. These trends are in line with stabilising the concentration of greenhouse gases at over 650 ppm CO2-equivalent, resulting in a likely temperature rise of more than 3.5 °C in the long term.

The 2 °C goal can only be achieved with vigorous implementation of commitments in the period to 2020 and much stronger action thereafter. According to climate experts, in order to have a reasonable chance of achieving the goal, the concentration of greenhouse gases would need to be stabilised at a level no higher than 450 ppm CO2-equivalent. The 450 Scenario describes how the energy sector could evolve were this objective to be achieved. It assumes implementation of measures to realise the more ambitious end of target ranges announced under the Copenhagen Accord and more rapid implementation of the removal of fossil-fuel subsidies agreed by the G-20 than assumed in tile New Policies Scenario. This action results in a significantly faster slowdown in global energy-related CO2, emissions. In the 450 Scenario, emissions reach a peak of 32 Gt just before 2020 and then slide to 22 Gt by 2035. Just ten emissions-abatement measures in five regions - the United States, the European Union, Japan, China and India - account for around half of the emission reductions throughout the Outlook period needed in this scenario compared with the Current Policies Scenario. While pricing carbon in the power and industry sectors is at the heart of emissions reductions in OECO countries and, in the longer term, other major economies (CO2 prices reach $90-120 per tonne in 2035), fossil-fuel subsidies phase-out is a crucial pillar of mitigation in the Middle East, Russia and parts of Asia. The power-generation sector’s share of global emissions drops from 41% today to 24% by 1035, spearheading the decarbonisation of the global economy. By contrast, the transport sector’s share jumps from 23%; to 31%, as it is more costly to cut emissions rapidly than in most other sectors.

Cutting emissions sufficiently to meet the 2 °C goal would require a far-reaching transformation of the global energy system. In the 450 Scenario, oil demand peaks just before 2020 at 88 mb/d, only 4 mb/d above current levels, and declines to 81 mb/d in 2035. There is still a need to build almost 50 mb/d of new capacity to compensate for falling production from existing fields, but the volume of oil which has to be found and developed from new sources by 2035 is only two-thirds that in the New Policies Scenario, allowing the oil industry to shelve some of the more costly and more environmentally sensitive prospective projects. Coal demand peaks before 2020, returning to 2003 levels by 2035. Among the fossil fuels, demand for natural gas is least affected, though it too reaches a peak before the end of the 2020s. Renewables and nuclear make significant inroads in the energy mix, doubling their current share to 38% in 2035. The share of nuclear power in total generation increases by about 50% over current levels. Renewable-based generation increases the most, reaching more than 45% of global generation - two-and-a-half times higher than today. Wind power jumps to almost 13%, while the combined share of solar PV and concentrated solar power reaches more than 6%.

Carbon capture and storage plays an important role in reducing power-sector emissions: by 2035, generation from coal plants fitted with CCS exceeds that from coal plants not equipped with this technology, accounting for about three-quarters of the total generation from all CCS fitted plants. Biofuels and advanced vehicles also play a much bigger role than in the New Policies Scenario. By 2035, about 70% of global passenger-car sales are advanced vehicles (hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric cars). Global energy security is enhanced by the greater diversity of the energy mix.

Failure at Copenhagen has cost us at least $1 trillion…

Even if the commitments under the Copenhagen Accord were fully implemented, the emissions reductions that would be needed after 2020 would cost more than if more ambitious earlier targets had been pledged. The emissions reductions that those commitments would yield by 2020 are such that much bigger reductions would be needed thereafter to get on track to meet the 2 °C goal. In the 450 Scenario in this year’s Outlook, the additional spending on low·carbon energy technologies (business investment and consumer spending) amounts to $18 trillion (in year·2009 dollars) more than in the Current Policies Scenario in the period 2010-2035, and around $13.5 trillion more than in the New Policies Scenario. The additional spending compared with the Current Policies Scenario to 2030 is $11.6 trillion - about $1 trillion more than we estimated last year. In addition, global GOP would be reduced in 2030 by 1.9%, compared with last year’s estimate of 0.9%. These differences are explained by the deeper, faster cuts in emissions needed after 2020, caused by the slower pace of change in energy supply and use in the earlier period.

…though reaching the Copenhagen goal is still (just about) achievable

The modest nature of the pledges to cut greenhouse-gas emissions under the Copenhagen Accord has undoubtedly made it less likely that the 2 °C goal will actually be achieved. Reaching that goal would require a phenomenal policy push by governments around the world. An indicator of just how big an effort is needed is the rate of decline in carbon intensity - the amount of CO2, emitted per dollar of GOP - required in the 450 Scenario. Intensity would have to fall in 2008-2020 at twice the rate of 1990-2008; between 2020 and 2035, the rate would have to be almost four times faster. The technology that exists today could enable such a change, but such a rate of techoological transformation would be unprecedented. And there are major doubts about the implementation of the commitments for 2020, as many of them are ambiguous and may well be interpreted in a far less ambitious manner than assumed in the 450 Scenario. A number of countries, for instance, have proposed ranges for emissions reductions, or have set targets based on carbon or energy intensity and/or a baseline of GOP that differs from that assumed in our projections. Overall, we estimate that the uncertainty related to these factors equates to 3.9 Gt of energy· related CO2 emissions in 2020, or about 12% of projected emissions in the 450 Scenario. It is vitally important that these commitments are interpreted in the strongest way possible and that much stronger commitments are adopted and acted upon after 2020, if not before. Otherwise, the 2°C goal would probably be out of reach for good.

category: action