Monday, November 24, 2008

Developing nations urged to slash carbon emissions

THE world will fail to halt global warming in time unless key developing countries join the West in slashing carbon emissions "substantially below business as usual", the world's chief energy watchdog has warned.

     The executive director of the International Energy Agency, Nobuo Tanaka, told The Age that, on current policies, developing countries will generate 97 per cent of the growth in greenhouse emissions between now and 2030.

     "After 2020, the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) must participate", Mr Tanaka said. "Without some of them, it's simply impossible to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees.

     "Our modelling shows that even if all the OECD economies reduce their emissions to zero, it still wouldn't be enough. They (the BRICs) simply have to join."

     In Australia to address the Clean Energy Council conference today, Mr Tanaka strongly rejected calls for Australia and other Western countries to put off tackling climate change because of the financial crisis.

     He said issues of climate change and depleting oil supplies were far too important to be shelved because of the economic slump. To do nothing now would raise costs in future, making it harder to recover from the slump.

     "Many international oil companies have postponed investments because of the credit crunch," Mr Tanaka said. "This will create a possible supply crunch when demand is coming back after the crisis is over.

     "We want to see the investment happening now, and it's the same with climate change. If we don't have the investment now, the cost of mitigation will be higher in future. We should not slow down."

     The agency is the West's think tank on energy issues, and is funded by 22 governments, including Australia.

It has long criticised Australia, the United States and others for delaying action on climate change.

     But Mr Tanaka gave the Rudd Government high marks on everything except its refusal to consider nuclear power - which the IEA argues will be needed to halve global emissions at least cost. He praised the Prime Minister's plan to set up a global research fund for carbon capture and storage.

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