The report does confirm the urgency of other science-based studies: that (as the National Geographic wrote in its first graph) " If the world waits until 2020 to take action on global climate change, it will undoubtedly be too late."
Let's pause for a moment and take that in. In the midst of all the worthy issues, idiotic trivialities, shameless posturing and greedy inflation of nonsense that absorbs every facet of this constant overwhelming blitz of private and public information that absorbs our time, we're being told once again that we have less than seven years to save humanity, at least in its present form.
Which is made even more poignant by the main IEA message: four fairly simple steps that together may well slow carbon poisoning of the planet just enough to limit the climate damage before it becomes apocalyptic.
According to the IEA, they are:
- Targeted energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and transport account for nearly half the emissions reduction in 2020, with the additional investment required being more than offset by reduced spending on fuel bills.
- Limiting the construction and use of the least-efficient coal-fired power plants delivers more than 20% of the emissions reduction and helps curb local air pollution. The share of power generation from renewables increases (from around 20% today to 27% in 2020), as does that from natural gas.
- Actions to halve expected methane (a potent greenhouse gas) releases into the atmosphere from the upstream oil and gas industry in 2020 provide 18% of the savings.
- Implementing a partial phase-out of fossil fuel consumption subsidies accounts for 12% of the reduction in emissions and supports efficiency efforts.
"Over the next seven years, aggressive efforts to tackle greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, refineries, and pipelines, and especially to boost energy efficiency, could still keep the world on track to meet its goal of holding increases in global average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
What’s more, those efforts need not come at the expense of a profitable energy sector, a concern that has fueled opposition to international agreements on curbing emissions and slowing climate change."
A couple of other features of these proposals: they are basically intensifications of policies and efforts already begun, and while they may shift profits from some corporations, they all generate economic activity and generate new jobs.
The IEA and others have the figures to back all this up. Energy efficiency may seem like just a feel good drop in the bucket, but it is not. And there are simple adjuncts or changes that can contribute enormously. For example, it's been estimated that making all roofs and roadways white (to reflect sunlight) would be the equivalent of taking all cars off the roads for 18 years.
The Monitor article is interesting also because it places the advocacy of such efforts in context of upcoming international attempts to finally address the climate crisis in a real way. Some progress may have been made in that regard in the latest meeting between President Obama and leaders of China.