UK to Beat Emissions Targets, China to Install Whopping 180 GW of Renewables

The UK says it’s on track to exceed its target of cutting emissions 34% by 2020.

The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change says it can reduce emissions 80% by 2050 if it achieves a combination of renewables (45 gigawatts), nuclear (33 GW) and fossil fuels with carbon capture (28 GW) .

Chris Huhne, Minister for Energy and Climate Change, noted that mix would also result in much greater energy security and green job creation.

The country has legally binding targets for emission cuts over four five-year periods to 2027, dubbed carbon budgets.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects China will install a whopping 180 GW of wind and solar capacity by 2020 – the same amount built across the world in the last 40 years and equivalent to 180 nuclear plants.

That’s up from 42 GW of wind and 1 GW of solar today.

Half of all alternative fuel vehicles – electric, hybrid, nat gas – will be bought in China over the next 20 years.

Even with this gargantuan growth, in 2035 China’s renewable energy capacity will be smaller portion of its energy mix than most regions of the world, including the US, EU, India and Latin America, according to IEA’s 2011 World Energy Outlook.

In 2000, China consumed half the energy of the US. Now, it’s the world’s largest energy consumer, projected to use almost  70% more than the US in 2035.

Fossil-fuels Still Top Subsidies 

IEA also points out that fossil fuels received six times more state subsidies in 2010 than renewable energy.

Subsides used to reduce the price of gasoline, natural gas and coal rose by over a third to $409 billion as global energy prices increased, compared with $66 billion for solar, wind and biofuels.

Those subsidies are "creating market distortions that encourage wasteful consumption," says the IEA. "The costs of subsidies to fossil fuels generally outweigh the benefits."

In 2009, the G20 pledged to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, but spent $160 billion supporting their production and consumption last year. Iran spent the most – $81 billion.

While governments say those subsidies help the poorest members of society, the IEA counters that just 8% actually reached the poorest 20% of each country’s population last year.

In reality, they benefit higher income groups that can afford to buy more fuel. "Social welfare programs are a more effective and less distortionary way of helping the poor than energy subsidies," reports the IEA.

And the subsidies make it much harder for renewable energy to compete. The IEA says eliminating subsidies by 2020 would cut global energy demand 3.9% that year and 4.8% by 2035.

The IEA is calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies:

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