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IEA projections on energy in China and India fail to reflect future reality of combating climate change


Delhi/Beijing/Amsterdam, International — New projections of energy consumption in China and India, released today by the International Energy Agency (IEA), fail to adequately incorporate options for substantially expanding renewable energy and improving energy efficiency in either countries, according to Greenpeace.
According to the IEA’s figures, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for both countries combined could more than double to 14,7 billion tones by 2030, about fifty five percent of the current global emissions.

“The IEA’s projections are likely to be seized upon by the likes of US President George Bush and Australian PM John Howard to argue that they do not need to act until India and China take on binding commitments to cut CO2,” said Sven Teske, energy expert at Greenpeace International. “To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, all countries urgently need to act,” said Teske. “Big emitters like the US must lead the way, starting at next month’s UN climate talks, in Bali.”

“What the IEA projects may happen is not inevitable and fails to take into account realistic options for limiting carbon dioxide emissions in both China and India,” he said.

Greenpeace wants urgent international action to kick-start a revolution in how the world produces and consumes energy in order to avert a climate catastrophe.

Sven Teske has supervised the development of a series of ’Energy Revolution’ scenarios for Greenpeace which include projections of energy use and carbon dioxide emissions for China and India. Teske is confident that the future is bright as regards energy use in China and India and he rejects the IEA “business as usual” projections.

“So-called ’business-as-usual’ in energy policy should include the reality of having to combat climate change, not just leaving solutions to chance,” he said.

Teske’s work for Greenpeace shows that making wide-ranging investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies could stabilise carbon dioxide emissions from China’s and India’s burgeoning economies and return carbon dioxide emissions to current levels by 2050. But successfully combating climate change also requires industrialised countries to rapidly reduce their CO2 emissions 30 per cent below the 1990 level by 2020, instead of the 15 per cent emissions increase shown in recent projections in the IEA’s World Energy Outlook.

IEA forecasts suggest a doubling worldwide in the number of coal-fired power plants, the number one “climate killer”, to over 2,700 by 2030, fifty seven per cent of which could be built in China and India. But this overlooks that between them, China and India already produce nearly a quarter of the world’s renewable electricity, the market for which is growing rapidly.

Climate scientists in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conclude that increases in global average temperature, compared to the pre-industrial era, should be kept as far below 2 degree Celsius C as possible to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This calls for at least halving carbon dioxide emissions worldwide by 2050 instead of allowing emissions to double, as the IEA forecasts.

Energy Revolution
Greenpeace’s ’Energy Revolution’ scenarios show how making additional investments in renewable energy would pay back handsomely. A global annual investment of US $22 billion in clean power plants could produce fuel cost savings of up to $202 billion per year, paying back the investment 10 times over. The value of the renewables industry - worth $50 billion in 2006 - could increase to $288 billion annually by 2030. Meanwhile, converting the massive subsidies of $250 billion a year that coal and gas receive to clean, safe renewable energy would more than cover the costs of achieving the energy revolution.

The Energy Revolution scenario for China shows that the country’s current target for energy efficiency gains by 2010 is a good move towards more sustainable development. Recent reports, like the Chinese wind report 2007 launched last week in Shanghai, show that more ambitious targets for both wind and solar energy in China are possible. Greenpeace wants the Chinese government to raise and implement targets for renewable energy and improving energy efficiency in order to limit the growth of energy consumption as China continues to develop.

Greenpeace China climate and energy campaign manager, Ailun Yang, said, “Transforming the power sector in China is a big task, but it must and can be done. Success in the fight against climate change lies in a ’decarbonised’ model of growth for key developing countries.”

Greenpeace’s energy scenario for India shows that large-scale investments in energy efficiency measures could limit the increase in energy demand to just one-third above the current level by 2050, rather than see it triple, according to conventional wisdom. By mid-century, 60 per cent of India’s electricity could be produced from renewable sources keeping India’s CO2 emissions at the level of 2010 levels, instead of trebling as they do underthe IEA projections.

Greenpeace India energy expert, Soumyabrata Rahut, said, “We urge the Indian government to implement a renewable energy law by 2010. This must provide incentives for investment in renewable technologies such as preferential tariffs and open transmission and encourage consumers to buy green energy. There are two key steps the government should take. The first is to introduce progressive mandatory efficiency standards for lighting products by 2010, effectively ban the energy-wasting incandescent bulb. Second, India needs progressive mandatory fuel efficiency standards for the transport sector by 2012.”

Governments from around the world meet at next month’s UN climate conference in Bali, Indonesia. Greenpeace wants them to agree on a strong mandate for further international negotiations that would cement deep and long-term legally-binding emissions reductions into an extension of the current Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.


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