According to the IEA: “The door to 2C is closing. If stringent new action is not forthcoming by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place will generate all the CO2 emissions allowed in the 450 Scenario up to 2035, leaving no room for additional power plants, factories and other infrastructure unless they are zero-carbon, which would be extremely costly.”
The 450 Scenario lays out the measures that need to be implemented in order to give the world an equal chance of keeping global warming below the 2C threshold.
According to the IEA assessment, 80 per cent of future emissions are already accounted for in current or planned “capital stock” such as power plants and factories – leaving no wriggle room for future developments.
That figure will rise to 95 per cent if the world persists with business as usual until 2015, with the threshold passed in 2017.
“I am very worried – if we don’t change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the [safe] minimum,” said the IEA’s chief economist, Fatih Birol. “If we do not have an international agreement, whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door will be closed forever.”
The concern at political inaction on the issue comes from an organisation that is regarded as conservative in outlook and not prone to alarmism, which highlights the severity of the issue. Despite this, the IEA revealed in May that greenhouse gases reached a record high last year.
It is possible for individuals to make a difference by changing things within their control, such as cutting down on their meat consumption in order to curb the harmful emissions generated by the livestock industry. Campaigns such as Meat Free Monday are about taking responsibility for our actions and leading by example – a useful lesson for the politicians.