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12 Countries Agree to Carbon Capture Actions; IEA Urges Aggressive Policies

Energy secretaries from the U.S., U.K. and ten other countries have agreed to accelerate the development of carbon capture projects, at the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi.

Ministers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates also joined the agreement to start or continue action in at least one of several areas, Carbon Capture Journal reports. These include:

  • Implementing policies to address financing and risks of the first carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects;
  • Creating funding mechanisms to support large-scale CCS demonstration projects in developing countries;
  • Deploying laws and regulations to enable CCS; and
  • Encouraging early CCS projects to share best practices.

Also at the ministerial, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its first Clean Energy Progress Report (pdf), which said that governments around the world must adopt more aggressive clean energy policies. These include predictable incentives, prices on CO2 emissions, a phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies, and funding for large-scale CCS demonstrations.

“Extensive deployment of CCS is critical to achieve climate change goals: around 100 large-scale projects are needed by 2020, but countries must accelerate their policy and funding support for the large-scale CCS demonstrations,” the IEA said.

The report assesses global deployment of clean energy technologies and provides recommendations to countries on future action and spending. It said that impressive progress has been made in developing clean energy technologies in the past decade.

Global installed wind capacity increased more than ten-fold, from 17 GW at the end of 2000 to 194 GW at the end of 2010. At least ten countries now have sizable domestic solar energy markets, up from just three in 2000, the report said.

But demand for fossil fuels has outstripped clean energy deployment. Coal has met 47 percent of global new electricity demand over the past decade. Worldwide renewable electricity generation has grown an average of 2.7 percent a year since 1990, compared to 3 percent growth for total electricity generation.

This means that to achieve an IEA goal under its Blue Map scenario of halving global energy-related CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels, all renewable generation will need to double between now and 2020, the report said. Countries also need to spur a switch in fossil fuel plants, from coal to natural gas, and improve efficiency of coal plants, the IEA said.

(The chart above shows the world’s progress in adopting clean energy technologies, against Blue Map targets.)

Presenting the report at Abu Dhabi, IEA deputy executive director Ambassador Richard Jones said the world’s dependence on fossil fuels poses short-term risks to political and economic stability, and is threatening the environment.

“Despite countries’ best efforts, the world is coming ever closer to missing targets that we believe are essential for meeting the goal agreed in Cancun to limit the growth in global average temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius,” Jones said.

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