With the Copenhagen Summit scheduled for next month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) is pushing for a global commitment from the rich nations to end energy poverty. The idea is to achieve a global End Poverty kind of pledge to support the setting up of electricity distribution and generation resources in the poorer nations of the world.
Energy companies are not interested in setting up power plants where the consumers are too poor to pay for the services. The idea behind IEA’s initiative is to get rich nations to subsidize them. Without the support, as much as 1.3 billion people or 16% of the global population may still be without access to energy by 2030, according to their estimates.
The recently released World Energy Outlook predicts that oil production will jump over 30% in the coming two decades, from 85 million barrels to 105 million barrels by 2030, unless a concerted effort is made to ensure new energy requirements are fulfilled through the use of low or non-polluting methods such as renewable energy sources or nuclear power. However, critics argue that the level of availability is highly exaggerated and cannot be more than 95 million barrels a year.
The key focus here is not on whether the levels of production are sustainable but also on the fact that the rise in oil consumption would push up emissions by as much as 33 per cent over the recorded 2007 levels and may lead to an atmospheric mean temperature rise of close to 6 degrees Celsius. The IEA’s focus is on advising its member countries to limit emissions to 450 parts per million and ensuring temperature rise is kept within 2 degrees. This would be possible only with a renewed focus on other less polluting sources of energy, claim spokespersons for the agency.
The tug of war between the OPEC countries and the environmental agencies on this front is expected to continue. OPEC would not like to see a slackening of demand for oil as it would mean trillions of dollars of lost revenues for them over the period. Also the abundance of oil claimed is seen as a move to keep a tight control over prices and avoid a panic reaction among the world’s stock markets.
The rise of oil costs to a historic peak of $147 has forced most countries to redirect their energy resource creation efforts in other directions. China and South Korea are seen as leading the effort, with a number of initiatives to promote green technology. The US too is debating a new emission control policy for controlling carbon credits available to different energy generation and distribution companies. Even in India, the Government has moved to a policy of promoting the setting up of nuclear power plants by accepting several agreements as part of streamlining its energy program for the coming decades. Nowhere have these issues been without acrimonious debate however, with all the stakeholders seeking to gain a significant concession for their segment. For example, coal producers in the US have gone so far as to produce playbooks and videos for school kids seeking to show that coal is a cheap, bountiful source of energy without the levels of pollution associated with it thanks to new technology available.