IEA: Subsidies, climate change don't mix

Aug. 20, 2012 at 9:12 AM
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TORONTO, Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies could help the international community meet goals of curbing climate change, an international energy leader said from Canada.

Global emissions peaked in 2011 to a level 1 gigaton short of a benchmark needed to limit the increase in the average global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius. The International Energy Agency said carbon dioxide emissions should peak at 32.6 gigatons no later than 2017 to keep warming trends in check.

IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said last week during a tour of Canada that energy use and CO2 emissions should double by 2050 under a business-as-usual forecast.

Major economies, including Canada, signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. It calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels and advocates financial support for developing countries.

Environmental group Greenpeace last year described the government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as irresponsible for pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol just days after an international climate conference in South Africa.

Van der Hoeven said moving beyond Kyoto to embrace a greener economy could keep some temperature ambitions alive.

"That means pricing carbon and abolishing fossil fuel subsidies -- subsidies which in 2011 were almost seven times higher than support for renewables," she said in a statement.

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