Critical Factors Changing the Future Global Energy Landscape

Fatih Birol, Chief Economist, International Energy Agency (IEA), delivered a public lecture on Critical Factors Changing the Future Global Energy Landscape at CEU on November 26, 2010. Birol’s talk was organized jointly by the Department of Public Policy and the Center for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy. Katalin Farkas, Professor of Philosophy, Provost/Academic Pro-Rector, gave introductory remarks, and Andreas Goldthau, Associate Professor, Department of Public Policy, acted as moderator for the lively question and answer session following the talk. The lecture was attended by members of the CEU Community and representatives of the diplomatic corps and Hungarian media.

In his lecture, Fatih Birol reflected on insights published in the recently released World Energy Outlook 2010 and stressed several factors related to the uncertainty of future global energy supply, demand and pricing. These included whether economic recovery was sustainable, what policy decisions key energy actors such as China would adopt, and the degree to which the Copenhagen Climate Accord would be implemented. According to Birol, government policies were the key to the future of the global energy. According to IEA projections, coal will remain the backbone of global electricity generation, although renewables will enter the mainstream within the next 25 years. Likewise, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles will become increasingly widespread. Fatih Birol emphasized however, that these developments would need political support and financial backing. As he pointed out, achieving the 2°C goal would require a strong political commitment to fundamentally overhaul power generation and the transport sector, and stressed that time was also a crucial factor. In order to reach this goal, in the period 2008-2020, the globe’s carbon intensity will have to fall at twice the rate that it did between 1990-2008, and do so at a rate almost four times faster between 2020-2035. Looking ahead, Fatih Birol stressed that recently announced policies could make a difference, but fall well short of what is needed for a secure and sustainable energy future. Achievement of the Copenhagen climate goals might become less and less likely unless individual country pledges are fully implemented by 2020. He also pointed out that getting the prices right was the single most effective measure to cut energy demand.

 

Watch Dr. Birol's lecture in full at our YouTube channel by clicking here.