IEA calls for $36 trillion more in clean energy investments

@CNNMoney June 12, 2012: 2:32 PM ET
The International Energy Agency says the world isn't doing nearly enough to combat global warming.

The International Energy Agency says the world isn't doing nearly enough to combat global warming.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The International Energy Agency said the world's clean energy investments are sorely lacking and this week called for an additional $36 trillion of funding by 2050.

In a sharply-worded introduction to a 700-page report, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said governments and private industry need to do far more if the world is to hold global warming to what most scientists say is an acceptable level.

"Our ongoing failure to realize the full potential of clean energy technology is alarming," said van der Hoeven. "Under current policies, both energy demand and emissions are likely to double by 2050."

The IEA consists of mostly industrialized nations and was set up in the early 1970s to counterbalance OPEC. It conducts energy market research and helps coordinate releases from strategic oil stockpiles.

The report urged governments to set higher targets for renewable energy use, called for a price on the emissions of carbon dioxide, and an end to subsidies for fossil fuels -- which worldwide it said were seven times larger than renewable energy subsidies in 2011.

"Too little is currently being spent on every element of the clean energy transformation pathway," said van der Hoeven.

The IEA's call for the extra $36 trillion in clean energy investments seems like a huge number, it's actually just 35% more than what the world will invest in energy infrastructure by 2050 anyway.

IEA noted the extra investment -- which works out to $130 per person per year -- could ultimately lower the world's energy costs by $150 trillion by 2050 because that money would not have to spent on buying more oil, gas or coal.

The fuel for most renewable energy systems -- the wind, the sun, the earth's heat -- is free, while fossil fuel systems require the constant purchase of fuel, mostly from a handful of resource-rich nations.

"Continued heavy reliance on a narrow set of technologies and fossil fuels is a significant threat to energy security, stable economic growth and global welfare, as well as to the environment," the report said.

Unlike some naysayers who think renewable technology cannot be scaled up to produce the magnitude of energy the world demands, IEA believes renewables can do the job -- if the right investments are made.

"Policy can unleash the potential of technology to ensure a sustainable energy future for our planet," the report said.

Monday's report, titled Energy Technology Perspectives, said that while wind and solar energy have made considerable progress in the last few years, other technologies have been neglected.

A lack of progress in energy efficiency and the technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions and store them underground is particularly alarming, the report said -- especially given the world's projected continued reliance on coal.

But as reliance on coal gradually diminishes with utilities beginning to favor natural gas -- touted as a clean alternative for electricity production -- IEA says reliance on other forms of alternative energy will also grow.

By 2025 IEA expects energy alternatives like geothermal, wind, and the sun to form a larger slice of the total energy pie, which it says means natural gas will no longer be considered clean in comparison.

That raises "questions around the long-term viability of some gas infrastructure investment if climate change objectives are to be met," the report said.  To top of page

Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.80%3.88%
15 yr fixed3.20%3.23%
5/1 ARM3.84%3.88%
30 yr refi3.82%3.93%
15 yr refi3.20%3.23%
Rate data provided
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:
Economic Calendar
Latest ReportNext Update
Home pricesAug 28
Consumer confidenceAug 28
GDPAug 29
Manufacturing (ISM)Sept 4
JobsSept 7
Inflation (CPI)Sept 14
Retail sales Sept 14
  • -->

    Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.