“… the average unit of energy produced today is basically as dirty as it was 20 years ago,” says the International Energy Agency (IEA),
IEA released an annual report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2013. The 154-page report recommendations stress “that the true cost of energy must be reflected in consumer prices, through carbon pricing and the phase-out of fossil-fuel subsidies. Technologies like electric vehicles, wind and solar will need support for several years more, but policies should be flexible and transparent. More stringent and broader energy performance standards, building codes and fuel economy standards can drive energy efficiency.”
IEA asserts that stark messages emerge:
- progress has not been fast enough
- large market failures are preventing clean energy solutions from being taken up
- considerable energy-efficiency potential remains untapped
- policies need to better address the energy system as a whole
- energy-related research, development and demonstration need to accelerate
The silver lining is that the uses of solar photovoltaic, wind, and advanced vehicle technologies (especially hybrid-electric and electric vehicles) are growing. Still, very few regions have comprehensive fuel economy measures in place, says IEA. Also, while the U.S. uses less coal than before, other countries use more.
You can dive into the specifics with visualization tools on the IEA site.
How does this affect consumers? IEA encourages governments to reflect the true cost of energy in consumer prices. Without a doubt this would mean higher prices. Still, shouldn’t the true cost of things be reflected in the price tags?
My takeaway from the report is that governments need to start doing more towards lowering carbon emissions. And consumers need to accept — or better yet demand — change. Are you willing to pay more and use less to help delay global warming? Are you willing to tell your government to move faster on clean energy initiatives?