Axelrod: IEA report proves Obama policies are working

Republicans have pilloried Obama on energy policy. They say the president has restricted oil-and-gas development on federal lands while favoring green energy subsidies for technology that Republicans contend is uncompetitive and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Obama has pointed to increased oil-and-gas production under his watch as proof he is supportive of the fossil fuel industry. At the same time, though, he has advocated stripping large oil and gas firms of $4 billion in annual tax breaks.

ADVERTISEMENT
While the U.S. is gushing oil and natural gas, fossil fuel subsidies in the U.S. and elsewhere increased 30 percent between 2010 and 2011 to $523 billion, the report said.

Renewables, on the other hand, attracted $88 billion in subsidies. That is expected to hit $240 billion by 2035, with $60 billion of that going to biofuels.

IEA warned that subsidies have incentivized the use of fossil fuels, in turn bringing the world to the brink of a lock-in date for a 2 degrees Celsius global temperature rise.

That tipping point is 2017, IEA said. A fast deployment of energy efficiency technology, however, could push that back to 2022.

The report said carbon dioxide emissions will continue to rise, resulting in a long-term temperature increase of 3.6 degrees Celsius. Emerging economies such as China and India are driving much of that jump.

Though nations will burn increasing amounts of fossil fuels for electricity generation in the coming years, those fuels’ share of the energy mix will decline, the report noted.

Natural gas will displace the use of coal, which will help blunt a portion of carbon omissions. And renewable energy is expected to account for 31 percent of the global electricity share by 2035, up from 20 percent in 2011.