THE world is on track to increase average temperatures by six degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2100 — three times the target limit set by governments at last year's Bali summit, the International Energy Agency reports.
In its annual World Energy Outlook 2008, released in London last night, the IEA warns that the world now faces an "immense" challenge to hold global warming to two degrees above pre-industrial levels, the goal it set in Bali.
The pace of growth in China, India and other developing countries is set to increase energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions much faster than any action by Western countries could reduce them.
The IEA is the energy counterpart of the OECD, a Paris-based think tank funded by Western governments, including Australia, to advise on energy demand, supply, technologies and policy issues. Its advice is seen as authoritative.
This year's report implies that it is now almost impossible for the world to limit greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million (ppm), the target set by ministers last year.
To do so, the price of carbon emissions — from electricity, cars, factories and homes — would have to rise as high as $US180 ($A270) a tonne by 2030, far above the $20 a tonne featured in Treasury modelling.
Even to hold greenhouse gas concentrations to 550 ppm — the interim target floated by the Garnaut report — would require carbon prices to climb to $US90 a tonne by 2030.
In a politically charged finding, IEA executive director Nobuo Tanaka said its modelling shows it will be impossible to reach the Bali target by reducing emissions in rich countries alone, as was envisaged in Bali.
"We would need concerted action from all major emitters," Mr Tanaka said. "Our analysis shows that OECD countries alone cannot put the world onto a 450 ppm trajectory, even if they were to reduce their emissions to zero."
The analysis finds that on current trends, only 3% of the increase in energy-related emissions by 2030 would occur in OECD countries. Instead, 97% of emissions growth would be in developing countries, and 75% in China, India and the Middle East.
Mr Tanaka said the era of cheap oil was over, and the world needed "a global energy revolution" based on lifting energy efficiency and the use of low-carbon energy sources, such as solar, wind, nuclear and carbon capture and storage.
"We cannot let the financial crisis delay the policy action that is urgently needed to ensure secure energy supplies and to curtail rising emissions of greenhouse gases," he said.
"Current trends in energy supply and consumption are patently unsustainable — environmentally, economically and socially. They can and must be altered."
The report says the key responsibility must be taken by the five major emitters: China, the United States, the European Union, India and Russia.
The report comes at a critical time, with environment ministers to meet at the start of December in the Polish city of Poznan to review progress — or lack of it — in negotiations since their Bali meeting.
Their goal is to negotiate a post-Kyoto agreement to reduce global warming by the end of next year, when they meet in Copenhagen. But as yet there is no shared vision on the key issue of which countries are to reduce emissions, and by how much.