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Report: Green energy growth not enough to curb climate change

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Despite the explosion of government support for renewable energy development worldwide, the pace has been too slow to meet international climate change goals.

The International Energy Agency reports that average carbon emissions per unit of energy hasn’t changed in twenty years — standing at 2.39 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of oil equivalent in 1990, and at 2.37 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of oil equivalent in 2010.

“As world temperatures creep higher due to ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide — two thirds of which come from the energy sector — the overall lack of progress should serve as a wake-up call,” said International Energy Agency executive director Maria van der Hoeven.

Between 2011 and 2012 solar and wind power technologies grew 42 percent and 19 percent, respectively, as governments began offering generous handouts to encourage the production of renewables. Subsidies also helped sales of hybrid vehicles broke the 1 million annual sales mark.

“We cannot afford another 20 years of listlessness,” van der Hoeven added. “We need a rapid expansion in low-carbon energy technologies if we are to avoid a potentially catastrophic warming of the planet, but we must also accelerate the shift away from dirtier fossil fuels.”

“The IEA misses three important facts,” David Kreutzer, senior fellow in energy economics and climate change at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“First, CO2 is not dirty,” he said. “It is non-toxic, odorless, and colorless. Second, world temperatures stopped rising about 15 years ago. Third, the forced adoption of ever increasing amounts of renewable energy became untenable because of its extraordinary cost and intermittent supply.”

Budgetary constraints, particularly in the developed world, and economic troubles have forced governments to scale back subsidies for renewable energy.

Bloomberg Energy finance reported that U.S. investments in “in renewables, energy efficiency and energy- smart technologies fell 54 percent in the U.S. to $4.5 billion” and European investments fell 25 percent to $13.4 billion — green investments in Spain alone fell 96 percent from last year.

Europe has also seen its cap-and-trade market crash twice this year, with carbon prices and power prices in Germany plunging to eight-year lows this week.

“This is a crisis in European leadership on the climate issue,” said Anthony Hobley, head of the climate change practice at the London law firm Norton Rose. “We have reached the stage where the E.U. E.T.S. has ceased to be an effective environmental tool.”

However, the Obama administration continues to push renewable energy, despite budgetary constraints and economic troubles within the industry. The president’s budget plan increases funding for the Energy Department by 8 percent increase from 2012 — to $28.4 billion in discretionary funds — to meet green energy goals, improve energy security, address the issue of climate change and modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons systems.

Tax benefits for renewable energy and energy efficiency already make up three-quarters of energy-related tax subsidies the U.S. is estimated to hand out in 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.