Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thoughts on the IEA World Energy Report

It has been hard to miss the surge of media excitement about the recent International Energy Agency "World Energy Outlook".

With its forecast of a boom on "tight" oil and gas in the United States, leading to the US "overtaking" Saudi Arabia as the number one world producer, the report has been greeted (at least in this country) with unabashed jubilation.   "This is a real energy revolution," declared the Wall Street Journal, "even if it's far from the renewable energy dreamland of so many government subsidies and mandates." 

I recently read a broader perspective on the report from Tim Michael Klare at Hampshire College.  On the "US boom", Klare writes:

Given the hullabaloo about rising energy production in the US, you would think that the IEA report was loaded with good news about the world's future oil supply. No such luck. In fact, on a close reading, anyone who has the slightest familiarity with world oil dynamics should shudder, as its overall emphasis is on decline and uncertainty.

Take US oil production surpassing Saudi Arabia's and Russia's. Sounds great, doesn't it? Here's the catch: Previous editions of the IEA report and the International Energy Outlook, its equivalent from the US Department of Energy (DoE), rested their claims about a growing future global oil supply on the assumption that those two countries would far surpass US output. Yet the US will pull ahead of them in the 2020s only because, the IEA now asserts, their output is going to fall, not rise as previously assumed.
 And of course the "good news" about fossil fuel production is not good news for the climate:
Of all the findings in the 2012 edition of the World Energy Outlook, the one that merits the greatest international attention is the one that received the least. Even if governments take vigorous steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the report concluded, the continuing increase in fossil fuel consumption will result in "a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees C".
Read the full article here.

1 comment:

Eclipse Now said...

Yes, good quote from Michael Klare there. That article is also over at Resilience.org here.