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ENERGY AND AIR POLLUTION

DEFINING THE ENERGY AND AIR POLLUTION CHALLENGE

INDOOR AIR POLLUTION FROM SOLID FUELS

URBAN OUTDOOR AIR POLLUTION

LONG-RANGE TRANSPORT OF AIR POLLUTION

DEALING WITH AIR POLLUTION

CONCLUSIONS

REFERENCES

Changes in the way the world produces and uses energy have become important for a number of compelling reasons, including the negative impacts of indoor, outdoor and transboundary air pollution on human health and the environment.The future of the world’s energy supply made headlines once again in 2005, as conventional energy prices skyrocketed. In 2004, the increase in crude oil prices resulted from higher demand in developing economies and continuing growth in industrialized economies. This growth in demand stabilized in the second quarter of 2005 as consumers and industry reduced oil consumption in response to higher prices (IEA 2005a). However, hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico disrupted US supply lines and crude oil prices soared to a
record high of US$70 a barrel in August 2005. These events highlighted – once again – the risks of the world’s dependency on
fossil fuels, which currently meet around 80 per cent of global energy needs (Figure 1) (IEA 2005b).

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), if existing energy policies continue, the world’s energy needs will be almost 60 per cent higher in 2030 than in 2004. Arguably, this increase in demand could be met from present known fossil fuel reserves (IEA 2004a). From a supply point of view, oil, gas and especially coal could therefore continue to dominate the global energy mix for the foreseeable future, unless we reconsider the environmental implications of this fossil fuel dependency. Alternatively, we could see major changes in global energy patterns driven by concerns about energy security, access, and the negative externalities of current patterns of energy use – particularly climate change and the health impacts associated with air pollution. There is already some action in this direction.

The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, includes commitments to diversify energy supply and to increase substantially the global share of renewable energy sources; to improve access to reliable, affordable, economically viable, socially acceptable and environmentally sound energy services and resources; and to establish domestic programmes for energy efficiency, among other things. The International Action Programme agreed at the International Conference for Renewable Energies in Bonn, in 2004, lists over 200 commitments and actions to promote more sustainable forms of energy by governments and others (Renewables 2004).

Policies for renewable energy exist in at least 45 countries worldwide, and at least 43 countries had a national target for renewable energy supply by mid-2005 (REN21 2005). Additional action is still needed to stem the growth in energy consumption and to develop efficient technologies and energy sources that are less polluting than fossil fuels. The IEA estimates that energy investments from 2003 to 2030 will total around US$16 trillion, or US$568 billion per year (IEA 2002a). If today’s policies continue to over-emphasize fossil fuel investments, the world could be further ‘locked’ into unsustainable energy patterns, as energy
investments have a lifetime of 30–50 years.


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