International Energy Agency Points the Way to a Clean Energy Future

November 15, 2006

The energy future our world is facing today, based on projections of current trends, is "dirty, insecure, and expensive," according to Claude Mandil, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA's "World Energy Outlook 2006" makes that clear in its reference scenario, which shows global energy demand increasing 53 percent by 2030, while global carbon dioxide emissions increase by 55 percent. But the IEA is actually optimistic, pointing out that key government policies and measures could easily put the world on a sustainable energy path. The IEA's "alternative policy scenario," which includes these policies and measures, reduces global energy demand by 10 percent by 2030, causing global carbon dioxide emissions to drop by 16 percent. In developed countries, oil imports and carbon dioxide emissions peak in 2015 and then begin to fall. According to the IEA, improved energy efficiency could yield most of the energy savings, combined with a greater use of renewable energy and nuclear power. "The good news," says Mr. Mandil, "is that these policies are very cost-effective." See the IEA press release.

Two other recent reports confirm the IEA's positive outlook. "American Energy: The Renewable Path to Energy Security," released in September by the Worldwatch Institute and the Center for American Progress, argues that policies to encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency could gradually transform the U.S. energy system. Likewise, a Rand Corporation study released on November 13th finds that by 2025, renewable resources could provide 25 percent of the electricity and motor fuels used in the United States. The study concludes that such a shift could occur at little or no additional cost, assuming that fossil fuel prices remain high and renewable energy technologies continue their historic downward cost trend. See the Worldwatch Institute press release, the full "American Energy" report (PDF 3 MB), the Rand press release, and the Rand report (PDF 633 KB). Download Adobe Reader.