The senior official claims the US has played an influential role in encouraging the watchdog to underplay the rate of decline from existing oil fields while overplaying the chances of finding new reserves.
The allegations raise serious questions about the accuracy of the organisation's latest World Energy Outlook on oil demand and supply to be published tomorrow – which is used by the British and many other governments to help guide their wider energy and climate change policies.
"This all gives an importance to the Copenhagen [climate change] talks and an urgent need for the UK to move faster towards a more sustainable [lower carbon] economy if it is to avoid severe economic dislocation," he added.
The IEA was established in 1974 after the oil crisis in an attempt to try to safeguard energy supplies to the west. The World Energy Outlook is produced annually under the control of the IEA's chief economist, Fatih Birol, who has defended the projections from earlier outside attack. Peak oil critics have often questioned the IEA figures.
But now IEA sources who have contacted the Guardian say that Birol has increasingly been facing questions about the figures inside the organisation.
Matt Simmons, a respected oil industry expert, has long questioned the decline rates and oil statistics provided by Saudi Arabia on its own fields. He has raised questions about whether peak oil is much closer than many have accepted.
World marketed energy consumption is projected to increase by 44 percent from 2006 to 2030. Total energy demand in the non-OECD countries increases by 73 percent, compared with an increase of 15 percent in the OECD countries.
In the IEO2009 reference case—which reflects a scenario in which current laws and policies remain unchanged throughout the projection period—world marketed energy consumption is projected to grow by 44 percent over the 2006 to 2030 period. Total world energy use rises from 472 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2006 to 552 quadrillion Btu in 2015 and then to 678 quadrillion Btu in 2030 (Figure 1). The current worldwide economic downturn dampens world demand for energy in the near term, as manufacturing and consumer demand for goods and services slows. In the longer term, with economic recovery anticipated after 2010, most nations return to trend growth in income and energy demand.
The most rapid growth in energy demand from 2006 to 2030 is projected for nations outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (non-OECD nations). Total non-OECD energy consumption increases by 73 percent in the IEO2009 reference case projection, as compared with a 15-percent increase in energy use among the OECD countries. Strong long-term GDP growth in the emerging economies of the non-OECD countries drives the fast-paced growth in energy demand. In all the non-OECD regions combined, economic activity—measured by GDP in purchasing power parity terms—increases by 4.9 percent per year on average, as compared with an average of 2.2 percent per year for the OECD countries.
World carbon dioxide emissions are projected to rise from 29.0 billion metric tons in 2006 to 33.1 billion metric tons in 2015 and 40.4 billion metric tons in 2030—an increase of 39 percent over the projection period. With strong economic growth and continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels expected for most of the non-OECD economies, much of the increase in carbon dioxide emissions is projected to occur among the developing, non-OECD nations. In 2006, non-OECD emissions exceeded OECD emissions by 14 percent. In 2030, however, non-OECD emissions are projected to exceed OECD emissions by 77 percent.
"The United Nations compiles annual statistics about human development and the environment in 174 countries. The statistics relate to energy use, life expectancy, nutrition and health, income and poverty, carbon dioxide emissions, and so on. Three of the indicators are combined to calculate a Human Development Index (HDI). The UN's HDI is considered by many to be a fair measure of basic human well-being."
"Alan Pasternak...found a correlation between electricity consumption and the HDI (see the figure). His analysis showed that HDI reached a high plateau when a nation's people consumed about 4000 kWh (kilowatthours) of electricity annually per capita..."
by Sohbet Karbuz
As the saying goes, facts are many but the truth is one. The truth is that the U.S. military is the single largest consumer of energy in the world. But as a wise man once said, don't confuse facts with reality. The reality is that even U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) does not know precisely where and how much energy it consumes. This is my Fact Zero.
Below I give some facts and figures on U.S. military oil consumption based mostly on official statistics. If you want to reproduce them make sure you read every footnote even if you need to put on your glasses. Also read the footnotes in this article.
FACT 1: The DoD's total primary energy consumption in Fiscal Year 2006 was 1100 trillion Btu. It corresponds to only 1% of total energy consumption in USA. For those of you who think that this is not much then read the next sentence.
Nigeria, with a population of more than 140 million, consumes as much energy as the U.S. military.
The DoD per capita energy consumption (524 trillion Btu) is 10 times more than per capita energy consumption in China, or 30 times more than that of Africa.
Is 450 ppm (or less) politically possible?
The long answer is the subject of this post (and my book and this entire blog).
Certainly regular readers know that the nation and the world currently lack the political will to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at 450 ppm or even 550 ppm.
The political impossibility is also obvious from anyone familiar with Princeton’s “stabilization wedges” — and if you aren’t, you should be (technical paper here, less technical one here). The wedges are a valuable conceptual tool for showing the immense scale needed for the solution (although they have analytical flaws).
Of course, if solving the climate problem were politically possible today, I would have found something more useful to do with my time (as, I expect, would you). But 450 ppm or lower is certainly achievable from an economic and technological perspective. Indeed, that is the point of the wedges discussion (since they rely on existing technology) and the Conclusion to Hell and High Water.
A wedge represents an activity that reduces emissions to the atmosphere that starts at zero today and increases linearly until it accounts for 1 GtC/year of reduced carbon emissions in 50 years. It thus represents a cumulative total of 25 GtC of reduced emissions over 50 years.
They wrote their Science paper when we were at 7 GtC and rising slowly — an ancient time you may remember as 2003, before Bush was reelected, before anybody ever heard of Reverend Wright or Paris Hilton or the need to stabilize below 450 ppm. An innocent time, really, but I digress.
So they said that 7 wedges would keep emissions flat for 50 years and then, assuming we invested in a lot of R&D, we could start cutting global emissions rapidly after 2050, and stabilize at 500 ppm. And everybody would live happily ever after driving fuel cell cars, watching
Problem 1: The world is at 8 GtC annual emissions.
Just to stabilize emissions at current levels thus requires adopting at least 8 wedges.