IEA announces shift in energy balance

The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced that the U.S. will take over Saudi Arabia as the globe’s largest oil producer as soon as the end of the decade. As a result, the U.S. may rely less on foreign oil by depleting its own oil faster.

At the Climate Change Conference in Doha it was recently announced that the U.S. reduced its carbon emissions in 2011. Also, Hurricane Sandy has demonstrated the importance of global warming gases and climate change.

These two concerns are on a collision course. Despite the emissions reduction, the United States is still the highest greenhouse gases emitter per capita among all advanced democracies. The United States emits about 2.5 times as much CO2 per capita as Western Europe.

From one point of view, we need fossil fuels to grow the economy, but from another point of view, they are severely underpriced and real economic growth depends on energy efficiency, solar power, and more efficient land use.

Last year, for the first time in over 60 years, the U.S. produced oil as a net export. If predictions of oil consumption hold, the U.S. will perpetuate its fossil dependency. According to a Bloomberg report, demand for oil will reach nearly one billion barrels per day.

The real issue is not whether the U.S. imports oil or produces its own; the real question is how can we reduce our consumption of fossil fuels in order to avoid severe costs from climate change.

The IEA report also urges economic incentives to discourage fossil fuels and encourage alternatives to reduce the inevitable high cost of climate change. Political forces to reduce fossil dependency continue to get stronger in American politics. But the question remains: how soon will they have real influence?

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