| View of rising Earth about five degrees above the Lunar horizon, taken on December 22, 1968 - - This is one of the more famous images of the Earth from the Apollo program, taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts as they became the first humans to circumnavigate the Moon.|
The rising Earth is about five degrees above the lunar horizon in this telephoto view taken from the Apollo 8 spacecraft near 110 degrees east longitude. The horizon, about 570 kilometers (250 statute miles) from the spacecraft, is near the eastern limb of the Moon as viewed from the Earth.
On the earth, the sunset terminator crosses Africa. The south pole is in the white area near the left end of the terminator. North and South America are under the clouds. The lunar surface probably has less pronounced colour than indicated by this print. Photo: NASA - US National Aeronautics and Space Administration
The International Energy Agency (IEA), the energy watchdog of 26 industrialised countries including Ireland, today welcomed what it termed the important and timely messages contained in the fourth assessment report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IEA believes these results highlight the urgent need for global coordinated action to address global warming and its effects.
The IEA's emissions projections to 2050, in a business-as-usual scenario, are consistent with the IPCC scenario leading to a global average temperature increase of 1.7 to 4.4oC, with a best estimate at 2.8oC. Energy-related CO2 emissions remain the core issue. The IEA estimates that under current policies, global emissions will increase 50% by 2030 and more than double by 2050. However, if we act now, this unsustainable and dangerous pattern can be curbed.
IEA findings also show that emissions could be returned to current levels by 2050 and even reduced thereafter, while an evergrowing demand for energy services, notably in developing countries, will be fully satisfied.
The IEA says that improving energy efficiency in the major consuming sectors – buildings and appliances, transport and industry – must be the top priority. While alleviating the threat of climate change it also improves energy security, access to energy, economic effectiveness and well-being.
The IEA estimates that 10 % of global energy consumption could be saved by 2030 --roughly equivalent to China's entire consumption today -- through energy efficiency policies currently under consideration by governments and existing technologies. Also, global International Energy Agency emissions can be reduced by 16% or 6.3 Gt (gigatons) due to increased efficiency and fuel switching. About 80% of these CO2 savings are due to energy efficiency improvements. However, for long-term sustainability and security we need diversified energy supplies and a very sharp reduction in CO2 emissions to mitigate global warming.
There is no single solution. The world energy mix must combine greater energy efficiency improvements with more renewables, more nuclear energy and many more fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, assuming that technological progress can make these solutions cost-effective and safe.
To foster the necessary changes, the IEA says that carbon emissions must be priced progressively throughout the global economy, while a great variety of policy instruments must be used to correct possible market imperfections. Funding for public and private research and development, and large demonstration plants is also in dire need. Greater emphasis on international technology collaboration – such as through the IEA network – is crucial to foster continued R&D and information dissemination in the various technology fields.
IEA models suggest that returning to current emission levels by 2050 does not impose large costs to the economy as a whole, as fuel savings will largely cover the costs of the more expensive options to reducing emissions. Thus action can make economic sense.