Ben German provides the depressing account of the state of world energy provided by the new report released April 17 at the fourth Clean Energy Ministerial taking place in New Delhi, India. The lack of progress can largely be placed on the increased use of coal throughout much of the world.
“Despite much talk by world leaders, and despite a boom in renewable energy over the last decade, the average unit of energy produced today is basically as dirty as it was 20 years ago,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said on April 17.
From IEA's press release: "To illustrate this inertia, the report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress, introduces the Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII), which shows how much carbon dioxide is emitted, on average, to provide a given unit of energy. The ESCII stood at 2.39 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of oil equivalent (tCO2/toe) in 1990, and had barely moved by 2010, holding at 2.37 tCO2/toe."
German note's two bright spots: "Green energy development has increased sharply worldwide, and in the U.S., the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas-emitter (after China), growth in natural gas-fired power at coal’s expense has helped curb carbon emissions."
In Europe, on the other had, greenhouse gas emissions rose due to increased consumption of coal (in part due to Germany's reduction of nuclear power and the higher price of natural gas compared to the U.S.).
The decrease continued an overall decline in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, down 6.9% since 2005. The EPA said the drop from 2010 to 2011 is driven mostly by power plants switching from coal to natural gas, which emits less carbon dioxide when burned.