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World has five years to avoid severe warming: IEA
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Nov 9, 2011

The world has just five years to avoid being trapped in a scenario of perilous climate change and extreme weather events, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned on Wednesday.

On current trends, "rising fossil energy use will lead to irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change," the IEA concluded in its annual World Energy Outlook report.

"The door to 2.0 C is closing," it said, referring to the 2.0 Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) cap on global warming widely accepted by scientists and governments as the ceiling for averting unmanageable climate damage.

Without further action, by 2017 the total CO2 emissions compatible with the 2.0 C goal will be "locked in" by power plants, factories and other carbon-emitting sources either built or planned, the IEA said.

Global infrastructure already accounts for more than 75 percent of that limit.

To meet energy needs while still averting climate catastrophe, governments must engineer a shift away from carbon-intensive fossil fuels, the agency said bluntly.

"As each year passes without clear signals to drive investment in clean energy, the 'lock-in' of high-carbon infrastructure is making it harder and more expensive to meet our energy security and climate goals," said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol.

The report outlines two scenarios for future energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases.

A "new policies" scenario incorporates existing government promises into a projection up to 2035.

A "450 scenario" lays out a timetable for curbing carbon emissions so that atmospheric concentration of CO2 stays under 450 parts per million (ppm), roughly equivalent to the 2.0 C target.

The current level is about 390 ppm.

Even taking into account current commitments, CO2 emitted over the next 25 years will amount to three-quarters of the total emitted since 1900, leading to a 3.5 C (6.3 F) average increase in temperature since that date.

Business-as-usual emissions would put the world "on an even more dangerous track toward an increase of 6.0 C (10.8 F)," the report says.

Scientists who have modelled the impacts on biodiversity, agriculture and human settlement say a 6 C world would be close to unlivable due to violent extremes of drought, flooding, heatwaves and storms.

The planet's average temperature has risen by about 1.0 C (1.8 F) over the last century, with forecasts for future warming ranging from an additional 1.0 C to 5.0 C (9.0 F) by 2100.

The report forecasts a one-third jump in primary energy demand by 2035, with 90 percent of this growth in developing economies.

Half of that demand will likely be met by increased use of coal, the most carbon-intensive of all major fossil fuels.

China -- already the world's top coal consumer -- is on track to use nearly 70 percent more energy than the United States by that date, it says.

Even under the "new policies" scenario progress toward a low-carbon economy will be halting.

The share of fossil fuels in global primary energy consumption falls from around 81 percent today to 75 percent in 2035, while renewables increase from 13 percent of the mix today to 18 percent.

This scenario already assumes a huge boost in subsidies for renewables, from $64 billion today to $250 billion in 2035.

"One wonders how many more worrying figures the world needs," commented Connie Hedegaard, the European Union's climate commissioner.

The report "shows that the world is heading for a fossil-fuel lock-in. This is another urgent call to move to a low-carbon economy," she said in a statement.

Setting a global price on carbon, slashing fossil fuel subsidies, boosting renewable energy and energy efficiency and revised tax codes are all tools for achieving that end, she added.

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US climate study group gets big oil funds
Washington (AFP) Nov 9, 2011 - A reputable US think-tank that seeks solutions for climate change has lost most of its charitable donations and will now take funding from big oil and energy interests, it said Wednesday.

Formerly known as the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions will be funded by Shell, General Electric, Bank of America and others.

The changes came after The Pew Charitable Trusts decided to stop giving $3.5 million per year to the group, which made up almost 80 percent of its $4.4 million annual budget, as part of structural changes in the philanthropic organization, a spokesman told AFP.

The climate group's president, Eileen Claussen, a former climate negotiator under president Bill Clinton, will carry on as head of the new group, self-described as an "independent, nonpartisan center."

"As C2ES, we bring the same team and the same commitment to fact-based analysis and pragmatic solutions," Claussen said in a statement.

"We are deeply indebted to The Pew Charitable Trusts for its many years of extraordinary support. Without Pew, we could not possibly be the organization we are today," she added.

"But it's time we stand on our own two feet, and thanks to our many supporters, we can. We're especially thankful that, even amid such economic and political uncertainty, so many in the business and philanthropic communities are so deeply committed to our mission."

The statement named three "strategic partners" as Entergy, HP and Shell, adding that they had made "substantial multi-year funding commitments to the new organization."

"Major contributors" were listed as the Alcoa Foundation, Bank of America, GE, The Energy Foundation, Duke Energy and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

"This is about protecting the environment, our communities and our economy. And it is about building the foundation for a prosperous and sustainable future," Claussen said.

A spokeswoman for the Pew Environment group said the change came as part of a transition that has been in the works since 2004, when The Pew Charitable Trusts became a public charity instead of a family foundation.

"As part of that transition, we are no longer a grant-making agency and so it has been in the works for quite some time," she said of the grants that had funded the group since 1998.

"Once the Pew Center for Global Climate change was at a point where it could stand on its own, we would cease our funding of the organization."


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The human cause of climate change: Where does the burden of proof lie?
London, UK (SPX) Nov 08, 2011
The debate may largely be drawn along political lines, but the human role in climate change remains one of the most controversial questions in 21st century science. Writing in WIREs Climate Change Dr Kevin Trenberth, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, argues that the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is now so clear that the burden of proof should lie with research which ... read more

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