Price of cutting power sector emissions hits $44 trillion

» By | Published 13 May 2014

By Sarah Azau

Coal-fired-plantThose in favour of less fossil fuels and more renewable energy have long pointed out that delaying the shift to green power is pushing the price tag up. But the latest research from the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows this is already happening and dramatically so: the cost of decarbonising the power sector has shot up 22% – to a massive $44 trillion – in the past two years, it says.

The higher price tag is due to coal use rising faster than renewable energy use, according to the IEA.

“A radical change of course at the global level is long overdue,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven was quoted as saying. “Growing use of coal globally is overshadowing progress in renewable energy deployment, and the emissions intensity of the electricity system has not changed in 20 years despite some progress in some regions.”

A recent report from the UN’s international panel on climate change (IPCC) said switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy efficiency measures is “affordable”: it would knock only 0.06% off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%, without quantifying the enormous health benefits of the lower CO2 and pollution levels.

The costs given by the IEA represent what needs to be done to ensure the average temperature rise since the industrial revolution is limited to a 2 degrees Celsius rise – the recommended maximum to avoid devastating climate change impacts.

The next UN negotiations on a climate change agreement will take place in Bonn from 4-15 June. An EWEA specialist will attend to represent EWEA’s position in favour of a strong global deal working towards the replacement of fossil fuels by zero-emissions wind energy and other renewables worldwide.

Categories: Climate change