IEA World Energy Outlook: Fossil fuel subsidies jumped 30% to $523 billion in 2011

By John Parnell

– The day’s top climate change stories as chosen by RTCC
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Monday 12 November

Last updated: 1600

France: Oil major Total has joined the growing number of companies providing off-grid solar electricity kits to provide lighting and mobile phone charging to rural communities in developing nations. “We’re aiming to sell one million solar lamps by 2015, which will improve the living standards of around five million people,” said Christophe de Margerie, Total’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.

EU: The EU has announced it is to suspend the inclusion of international airlines from its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). It said it would wait one year for an international deal to be agreed before it began forcing airlines to account for their CO2 emissions.

IEA: The International Energy Agency’s 2012 World Energy Outlook publication has highlighted the huge subsidies fossil fuels receive on an annual basis – here are the highlights:

– Fossil fuels will remain dominant in the global energy mix, supported by subsidies that, in 2011, jumped by almost 30% to $523 billion
– Global oil demand grows by 7 mb/d to 2020 and exceeds 99 mb/d in 2035, by which time oil prices reach $125/barrel in real terms
– In the New Policies Scenario, the WEO’s central scenario, the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035.
– Renewables become the world’s second-largest source of power generation by 2015 and close in on coal as the primary source by 2035. However, this rapid increase hinges critically on continued subsidies.
– Expanding power generation and biofuels output underpin an 85% increase in the amount of water consumed (the volume of water that is not returned to its source after use) through to 2035.

Finance: Rich nations are dismaying developing countries with pledges merely to continue aid to help them combat climate change in 2013 despite past promises of a tenfold surge to $100 billion (62 billion pounds) a year by 2020. (Reuters)

China: Pandas could be made extinct by climate change, according to a new study by Yale University. The research found that stocks of bamboo, the bear’s primary food source, will be devastated by the end of the century as a result of human activity and the effects of climate change. Bamboo has a reproductive cycle of 30-35 years making it harder for it to adapt to changes in climate. (Daily Telegraph)

India: A report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned that India’s cities are extremely vulnerable to climate change. It places Kolkata fourth on the list of sat risk cities and Mumbai sixth. It estimates that by 2070 Mumbai will have 11.4m people and $1.4 trillion of assets at risk to extreme weather events. In Kolkata the risk is even greater with 14m affected and $2 trillion of assets at stakes. (Times of India)

UK: The UK has been told it will not receive any EU funding for carbon capture and storage demonstration plants. The EU has reportedly excluded the shortlisted British projects from the bidding competition as Westminster had failed to confirm how much investment it would make in them. These details will likely have to be confirmed ahead of a second round of bidding. The Government has placed CCS fitted gas plants at the heart of its energy strategy. (Financial Times)

US: The Pentagon has warned against “climate surprises” and called on its analysts to prepare themselves for an increased frequency of flooding, drought, food shortages and sea level increases. (Guardian)

Italy: Nearly three quarters of Venice is underwater today after heavy rains and bad weather combined to generate the sixth highest water level since records began in 1872 – tourists were said to be swimming in St Marks Square (Reuters)

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