IEAs dirty future

December 19, 2012 2:50 pm

The international energy agency has put out a new report on coal that declares that coal will hold sway over our energy mix and dominate it by 2017. The new annual Medium-Term Coal Market Report (MCMR) that IEA released has disturbing projections for the growth of coal usage around the globe. The report says that besides the United States, all major economies of the world will burn greater amounts of coal to fuel their growth and by 2017 it will surpass oil on top  or our energy contributor list.

“Thanks to abundant supplies and insatiable demand for power from emerging markets, coal met nearly half of the rise in global energy demand during the first decade of the 21st Century. This report sees that trend continuing. In fact, the world will burn around 1.2 billion more tonnes of coal per year by 2017 compared to today, equivalent to the current coal consumption of Russia and the US combined. Coal’s share of the global energy mix continues to grow each year, and if no changes are made to current policies, coal will catch oil within a decade”, said Maria Van Der Hoeven, the ED of IEA. India is predicted to become the second largest coal consumer and the largest seaborne coal importer by 2017 with 204 mtce.

Such a future can spell disaster for our climate and our future. These projections are derivatives of complex equations that don’t always play out the same way in reality but this report should egg us further to do more for energy efficiency and decentralized renewable energy as the most viable alternatives to reducing our dependence on coal. If we are to limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees (its risen by 1 degree already), we have a maximum carbon budget of 565 gigatonnes! If IEA’s projections come true, then we will bring ourselves closer to breaching our budget by 2-3 years. That does not bode well for your future generations who will be left with a burning planet on runaway climate change.

Time for political wishsy-washy-ness needs to end and real leadership has to be assumed in dealing with this monumental challenge. The issue is beyond just our energy needs as gets to the question of our very existence on the planet.

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