The report warns that time is quicky running out to limit global temperature increases to 2 decrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which many advocates call necessary to avoid dangerous climatic changes.
Limiting increases to 2 degrees is the goal of the United Nations-hosted talks.
Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, said at the event Tuesday that he sees “no momentum” on climate, noting that prospects for a legally binding global agreement are currently a “stretch.”
He said climate change is “slipping off the policy radar screen.”
According to the IEA, the tipping point for 2 degrees is approaching in five years.
The 2012 World Energy Outlook states that “almost four-fifths of the CO2 emissions allowable by 2035 are already locked-in by existing power plants, factories, buildings, etc.”
But the agency’s analysts also see a ray of light, noting that a more aggressive deployment of energy efficiency technologies could keep the door open to limiting the rise to 2 degrees for a few years longer.
“Rapid deployment of energy-efficient technologies — as in our Efficient World Scenario — would postpone this complete lock-in to 2022, buying time to secure a much-needed global agreement to cut greenhouse-gas emissions,” the report states.
Birol, speaking Tuesday, warned that current policies will bring large temperature increases with “devastating effects.”
“With the current policies, global temperature is set to increase 6 degrees Celsius ... close to 6 degrees Celsius,” he said. “This will have devastating effects for everybody.”
He said one important policy will be improved efforts to combat fossil fuel subsidies. A summary of the IEA report notes that global fossil fuel subsidies rose to $523 billion in 2011, more than six times the amount of subsidies for renewable energy.
“The cost of fossil-fuel subsidies has been driven up by higher oil prices; they remain most prevalent in the Middle East and North Africa, where momentum towards their reform appears to have been lost,” the IEA report states.
The IEA is a Paris-based energy security and cooperation organization for 28 nations, including the United States.