October 6, 2009 / 10:48 AM / 10 years ago

Major non-OECD must halt CO2 growth by 2020: IEA

BANGKOK/LONDON (Reuters) - Carbon emissions from a group of richer emerging economies including Russia, China and the Middle East must stop growing by 2020 to control global warming, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.

Developing countries appeared far from committing to that, however, at Sept 28-Oct 9 talks in Thailand meant to drive agreement on a new climate pact in Copenhagen in December.

Rich countries must lead the way in a global effort to stop growth in carbon emissions from burning oil, coal and gas to produce energy, the IEA said on the sidelines of the U.N.-led talks in Bangkok.

Carbon emissions will fall by as much as 3 percent this year following the economic crisis, aiding the climate effort, added the energy adviser to 28 industrialized countries.

“We need an energy and environmental revolution,” IEA chief Nobuo Tanaka told reporters in Bangkok. “We can deliver, it is achievable.”

One consequence of firmer climate action would be less use for fossil fuels including oil, with demand peaking before 2020 as a result of efficiency measures and new access to wind and solar power, the IEA said.

That would ease global security of energy supply concerns, said Fatih Birol, IEA chief economist. “In the OCED countries oil imports in 2030 are 7 million barrels per day less,” if the world agreed an ambitious climate deal, he said.

The IEA report, an early release from its annual World Energy Outlook, said $10.5 trillion extra energy investment would be needed from 2010-2030 to control carbon emissions, or between half and 1 percent of global economic output.

But those funds could be almost entirely offset by fuel savings following efficiency gains.

“The investments the world has to make to shift to a low-carbon economy will pay off and result in lower energy bills, less air pollution and help keep climate change under control,” said John Nordbo, WWF technology and climate expert, responding to the report.

Danish minister of climate and energy, Connie Hedegaard, who will host the Dec 7-18 Copenhagen talks, said the IEA report showed the world needed a binding international climate agreement.

“The longer we postpone action, the more expensive it will be,” she said in a statement.

SEA LEVELS

Limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius may avoid the worst extreme weather and sea level rise resulting from climate change, scientists say. That would require global carbon emissions to stop rising before 2020, according to the IEA.

A U.N. panel of climate scientists, the IPCC, said in 2007 carbon emissions must peak by 2015 at the latest, and then at least halve by 2050 from 2000 levels, to limit temperature rises to 2-2.4 degrees.

The IEA split climate action between the OECD, other major economies and the poorest nations. Emissions from the group of richer, OECD countries must fall steadily from 2007 levels. That would include South Korea and Mexico, not bound by the present Kyoto Protocol whose commitments expire in 2012.

Other major economies defined as Brazil, China, the Middle East, Russia and South Africa — but not India — would have to halt growth in their carbon emissions by 2020, the IEA said.

China — the world’s biggest carbon emitter — on Monday accused rich nations of “killing” Kyoto by proposing for themselves more flexible arrangements to fight climate change.

Additional reporting by Chisa Fujioka; editing by William Hardy and James Jukwey

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