Must Act Now to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change, Says International Energy Agency


Reaping the CO2 You've Sowed

It never fails—just before every U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties convenes there is a rush of new and alarming studies arguing that this is our last chance when it comes preventing catastrophic man-made global warming. Yesterday, the International Energy Agency issued its annual World Energy Outlook report which claimed [PDF]:

We cannot afford to delay further action to tackle climate change if the long-term target of limiting the global average temperature increase to 2°C, as analysed in the 450 Scenario, is to be achieved at reasonable cost. In the New Policies Scenario, the world is on a trajectory that results in a level of emissions consistent with a long-term average temperature increase of more than 3.5°C. Without these new policies, we are on an even more dangerous track, for a temperature increase of 6°C or more.

Four-fifths of the total energy-related CO2 emissions permissible by 2035 in the 450 Scenario are already "locked-in" by our existing capital stock (power plants, buildings, factories, etc.). If stringent new action is not forthcoming by 2017, the energy-related infrastructure then in place will generate all the CO2 emissions allowed in the 450 Scenario up to 2035, leaving no room for additional power plants, factories and other infrastructure unless they are zero-carbon, which would be extremely costly. Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment avoided in the power sector before 2020 an additional $4.3 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.

Of course, the IEA's econometric calculations are based in part on a relatively high climate sensitivity.

Note: I will be reporting from the U.N. Climate Conference in Durban, South Africa in December.


NEXT: Chicken Pox Lollipops? You've Got to be Kidding!

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  1. The climate of fear never changes.

  2. Apocalyptic religions never change.

    1. They just fade away…

      1. Or commit mass suicide. Oh, we can only hope.

        1. Goretown.

          1. Hey, that has a nice ring to it.

  3. All data to date shows that nothing is happening. WE MUST STOP IT NOW!

    1. professor muller reviewed the studies & his analysis VERIFIED the previous studies showing the earth is warming.

      1. But they did not show that CO2 was the cause.

        1. Nor did they prove that there is enough long term temperature increase to show that it is significant.

          1. nor is his study peer reviewed science. (yet)

    2. The politics of failure have failed….it’s time to make them work again…..

      1. We must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling toward freedom.

  4. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

  5. “I’m yawning. I’m yawning some more. AND… zzzzzz.”

  6. Since AGW is a doomsday cult, isn’t legislation respecting it a violation of the First Amendment?

    1. Rofl. +100

  7. I think they’re trying to stir some shit up because people aren’t really giving a fuck about their (extremely weak) science right now.

  8. South Africa in December, eh? Do they still call that winter?

    1. I think it’s ‘swinter’ for us Northern Hemispheroids.

    2. It’s especially funny when the context of human reality is considered. South Africa is hugely degenerate, and major sociopolitical and economic shitstorms are gathering in the skies above all of the world’s greatest nations, yet our glorious leaders are meeting to discuss how best to waste more of humanity’s time and resources on pseudoscientific bullshit, while simultaneously imposing ludicrous restrictions upon human industry (and society in general) for the sake of the God-Realm, Holy Terra. What the fuck?

      And the final irony is that all it’ll likely do is made everything harder for us WITHOUT actually changing anything for the better, whatever that means.

      1. *make

  9. Let me get this straight… we’re going to fly all these officials, NGOs and scientists to the furthest part of Africa to lecture us on carbon use.

    1. Hard to junket during a teleconference.

    2. I’ll start believing they believe in AGW when they stop flying 120 different chartered jets into these conferences.

    3. They HAVE to go to South Africa; it’s the only way to be sure that their conference won’t be snowed on.

  10. The earth is warming? Really? I don’t need to spend millions on studies to know that, just ask any bum in London and he will tell you that they stopped having the River Thames frost fairs in the early 1800s.

  11. what policy, pray tell, do these arrogant asses believe that man can pass that will impact climate and temperature?

    1. what policy, pray tell, do these arrogant asses believe that man can pass that will impact climate and temperature?

      Revenue enhancement policy! It was never about anything else.

    2. PJ O’rourke found a bunch of quotes from the global cooling panic and noted that all of their policy prescriptions were exactly the same as the ones that are being made now.

  12. In a hundred years, people will be saying the same nonsense, the world is about to end but this time for sure.

  13. Unless they called for a crash program to build nuclear facilities, one questions their seriousness.

    1. ^^THIS^^

      But it isn’t about saving the earth or some such shit, but reallocating wealth. If they were serious at all, they would be pushing whole cloth for nuclear to be adopted everywhere. It’s reasonably cheap, the technology already exists and has been in use for decades, and emits zero carbon.

  14. Something something ecotastrophe blah blabbity blah REPENT THE END IS NIGH send your money today!

  15. Our computer models, which have yet to make any predictions that can be supported by real, empirical data, tell us of a looming, climate apocalypse.

  16. Must act now! Before the proles catch on that we are lying through our teeth!

  17. Something something ecotastrophe blah blabbity blah REPENT THE END IS NIGH send your money today!


    1. [wiggles fingers]

      1. But is it an “up twinkle” or a “down twinkle”?


  18. Or commit mass suicide. Oh, we can only hope.

    Perhaps there is an opportunity in the hemlock and tracksuit markets here.

  19. Read Juan Cole this morning. The sky has already fallen, turn back, turn back before the race is lost and gone forever.

  20. I’m still skeptical of climate change models, but the current research supports a holistic approach to stopping global warming. If we burn more coal without scrubbing out the particulates from the smoke, those particulates will cool the Earth enough to counteract the greenhouse gas effect.

    1. this is an interesting angle most people dont mention. The use of coal created both greenhouse emissions that warm to some degree at least, which particulate matter has an effect of blockign light and cooling

      1. *but particulate matter

        It also suggests that “clean” coal use may increase warming.

  21. In other environmental news, the World Toilet Organization is celebrating World Toilet Day on November 19th to advocate for the 40% of humanity that doesn’t have toilets ( ). Sanitation facilities stop the spread of diarrheal disease such as cholera. Diarrheal diseases are the 7th leading cause of death for all ages and the 2nd leading cause of death for children under 5. This never gets the press that global warming does, because the environmental movement is mostly citizens of industrialized nations who are convinced that their shit don’t stink.

    1. THIS is a cause that I can get, uh… behind.

    2. Totally support this cause; thanks for mentioning it. Funny, cause I was just talking to some enviro friends about this issue and advances in self composting toilets and the like and what an impact it could make on the world. There are some interesting ideas out there that don’t rely on the concept of huge public works projects to pipe waste to distant treatment plants.

      Really concern about one problem does not mean no concern about other problems. Quite the contrary usually. Just sayin.

  22. the World Toilet Organization is celebrating World Toilet Day on November 19th to advocate for the 40% of humanity that doesn’t have toilets

    I believe the single greatest achievement of Western Civilization is probably indoor plumbing.

  23. This sounds like an infomercial. What is it they’re selling again?

    1. Slavery

    2. Or a bill collector.

      Act now to avoid penalties and interest!

  24. Global warming is really nothing but a competition for status within the community. Both sides do it. They invent imagined threats so that they can gain standing amongst their peers by combating that threat. Liberals use environmentalism as one of their pet causes where as conservatives use traditional values and nationalism. Fear mongering is a proven formula for gaining power. All rationally thinking adults should always doubt the motives of individuals trying to spread fear.

    1. This is also why the problem will never be ‘solved’. The solvers couldn’t live without the attention. See also: euro crisis.

  25. 39 comments to this post and not one mention of any science. To refute the IEA report that we are facing a better than likely chance of facing irreversible warming, this blog points to a single unpublished report from Oregon State U. that the earth may be resilient enough to handle the change. I mean really.

    97.5% of climate scientists believe human-caused warming is occurring (Doran 2009). Last year (Anderegg 2010) a survey of all scientists who have made declarations for or against climate change found 97 to 98 percent support the climate change view.

    So what percentage of scientists do you think believe climate change is occurring? Or do you think we should not listen to scientists?

    1. How many times does it have to be fucking said that they agree that climate change is occuring (it’s been occuring for the past billion years) they do not however all agree that humanity is causing the planet to warm, or that warming is even necesarily a catastrophe.

      1. These studies specify *human-caused warming*.

        More here:…..ate_change

        Look, if you have any metastudies that show we are not fucked, please provide. Not any of this single unpublished OSU study stuff…

    2. Stan, serious question. Does your article say that scientists believe that climate can and does vary, or that anthropic activity has driven climate changes outside of their natural variability? Anyone who believes either believes in climate change. I’m a scientist and I believe the evidence for the first is indisputable (ice ages, they happened). The second one seems to have some huge holes in it that have not been addressed to my satisfaction.

    3. Less seriously, why the fuck should I care what random analytical chemists or particle physicists think about AGW? What about PhD industrial engineers? How do they vote?

    4. Stan, I got my masters of science in Ecology and Evolution back in 2005. The department had 2 computer modelers. Both of them were on my committee. I worked in the biometrics lab and assisted in a study to estimate how much carbon New Jersey forests can hold. The 2 modelers told me that the greenhouse gas effect is the best theory we have at the moment, but that another theory might displace it in the future. A third professor was extremely vocal with his warnings of climate change. He had no modeling background, his major publication was a book about speciesism, he warned in the 1970s that we would run out of mineral resources, and in 2002, he told my class that we would run out of fossil fuels by 2008, or 2012 at the latest. There are “experts” and then there are experts.

      1. No doubt. There are always some dim bulbs on any side of an issue.

    5. Stan,

      There are multiple levels of this. You can completely buy that carbin dioxide is a green house gas (like myself), you can completely buy that the earth has been warming (like myself), you can even buy that human action has contributed to warming (like myself), but you can reject that the warming is large enough to cause damages worth trying to stop when the cost of doing so is likely enormous and not anywhere close to even certain it would work.

      As of now the actuall measured warmign voer the past two decaes is much less than all the models that were used int he laet 80s and early 90s to start this worry and as of now warming hasnt gone anywhere the last decade. In addition, allt he of things that are supposed to actually cause harm, like hurricaine tornadoes, flooding – there is zero evidence that this stuff is actually increasing at all.

      So as of now, it would seem that on a cost benifit analysis, the only way you come to the conculsiont hat we need to stop it is if you use these models that have consistantly been wrong over the past 3 decades.

      I dont know why this is so hard for people to realize that this issue is not some binary question.

      Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas does not lead to institute cap and trade.

      1. I hope you are right that the warming will not be enough to cause problems. Who knows but there’s a lot of very troubling projections from smart folks:

        What we’ve seen so far:
        Since 1880, we have seen average global temperatures rise 1.3 – 1.8 degrees F with most of that in the last 30 years. That might not seem like a lot, but we are already seeing dramatic results with our own eyes: record droughts, record forest fires, more and stronger hurricanes, increased crop failures, 30 billion trees lost in the American west to pine beetles enjoying warmer winters, increased species extinction (100 to 1000 times greater than normal background rate), increased ocean acidification, increased range of tropical diseases. To take an example close to home, Glacier National Park had 150 glaciers when the park was founded; it is now down to 25 glaciers and is expected to be glacier free in 15 years. Okay that’s a one and a half degree temp rise.

        Where we’re headed:
        I’ll use the example of the MIT climate model as this is the most sophisticated model out there and is created by our leading science university. This model predicts that without significant policy change there is a 99% chance temperatures rise at least 5.4 degrees F by the end of the century, creating as you would imagine an exponential increase in the extreme weather and ecological disasters we’re already seeing; be aware that just this level of temperature rise could easily lead to ecological and social collapses. And the model predicts that there is a 9% chance temperatures rise by more than 12.4 degrees F. That’s simply game over for society. (

        Look I love free market everything as long as externalities are accounted for and carbon pollution is a big freaking externality we need to account for.

    6. Oh, please! Both of those surveys were designed to generate a consensus. The questions were notoriously vague, to the point that even most skeptical scientist would have answered “yes”.

      1. Notice how in all these outraged replies no one answered the question of what they thought the scientific opinion was at or what they based it on.

        Show me some data Reason crowd.

        There’s lots more on the consensus here if you care to read:…..ate_change

  26. Of course we “must act now”…

    Looking at the sine-wave plotting of late 20th century global average temp occillations, there is only so much time left to generate the maximum amount of hysteria and get a new tax scheme locked in before a cooling trend becomes apparent. Strike while the iron is HOT!

    1. If you’re referring to the plot in Spencer’s data, it’s a 3rd order polynomial, not a sine fit. the slopes at the beginning and the end have to have the same direction due to the nature of the function. Don’t read too much into it.

  27. But the Science has been settled!

  28. It never fails – just before every U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties convenes there is a rush of new and alarming studies arguing

    and vice versa, of course

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  30. “Of course, the IEA’s econometric calculations are based in part on a relatively high climate sensitivity.”

    As a science writer you should be aware of the fallacy of basing an opinion on a single study.
    On the other hand dozens of studies support the accepted range of 3C – 3.6C.

    Further more I challenge you to demonstrate a “rush” of papers before each U.N. conference. Demonstrate that the number of papers in climate science released surges in the months preceding each conference. I’m afraid pointing out one doesn’t really make your case. You might also want to make sure your readers understand that “it won’t be bad” is entirely your opinion and does not have significant support in the scientific literature.

    It’s been fascinating to watch your transformation. You went from calling scientists arguing we’re warming the planet alarmists and extremists, to accepting the planet is warming and calling scientists who argue it could be pretty bad alarmists and extremists. How much further will those goalposts shift?

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