Is evident our concern for the energy outlook. If we add that air pollution is a major public health crisis, with many of its root causes and cures to be found in the energy sector. And around 6.5 million deaths are attributed each year to poor air quality, making this the world’s fourth-largest threat to human health. Without changes to the way that the world produces and uses energy, the ruinous toll from air pollution on human life is set to rise. Is necessary a change in those energy outlook to short term.
That is why the International Energy Agency (IEA) dedicates, for the first time, his Special Report to the World Energy Outlook, to the links between energy, air pollution and health. It sets out in detail the scale, causes and effects of the problem and the ways in which the energy sector can contribute to a solution.
Energy production and use, mostly from unregulated, poorly regulated or inefficient fuel combustion, are the single most important man-made sources of air pollutant emissions:
- Poverty: the wood and other solid fuels that more than 7 billion people use for cooking, and kerosene used for lighting, create smoky environments that are associated with around 3.5 million premature deaths each year.
- Fossil fuel-intensive development and urbanization: coal and oil have powered economic growth in many countries, but their unabated combustion in power plants, industrial facilities and vehicles is the main cause of the outdoor pollution linked to around 3 million premature deaths each
THE SOLUTIONS ARE WELL KNOWN, BUT THE PROBLEM IS FAR FROM BEING SOLVED
- Growing attention to air pollution, together with an accelerating energy transition post-COP21, puts aggregate global emissions of the main pollutants on a slowly declining trend to 2040.
- Continued reductions in pollutant emissions across the industrialized world, and the onset of declines in China, are accompanied in our main scenario by modest growth in India and Southeast Asia and more rapid rises in parts of Africa.
- Despite the intensified policy efforts, regional demographic trends and rising energy use and urbanization, especially in developing Asia, mean that the number of premature deaths attributable to outdoor air pollution continues to grow, from 3million today to 4.5 million in 2040.
A PRAGMATIC ENERGY OUTLOOK: A CLEAN AIR SCENARIO
The IEA proposes a cost-effective strategy, based on existing technologies and proven policies, to cut pollutant emissions by more than half compared with our main scenario. This policy path is one in which the energy sector takes determined action, co-ordinated effectively with others, to deliver a comprehensive overall improvement. This WEO special report identifies three key areas for government action:
- Setting an ambitious long-term air quality goal, to which all stakeholders can subscribe and against which the efficacy of the various pollution mitigation options can be assessed.
- Putting in place a package of clean air policies for the energy sector to achieve the long-term goal, drawing on a cost-effective mix of direct emissions controls, regulation and other measures, giving due weight to the co-benefits for other energy policy objectives.
- Ensuring effective monitoring, enforcement, evaluation and communication: keeping a strategy on course requires reliable data, a continuous focus on compliance and on policy improvement, and timely and transparent public information.
The measures proposed in the Clean Air Scenario are tailored to different national and regional circumstances, and include effective action to achieve full, universal access to cleaner cooking fuels and to electricity. Organized in a simple A-I-R typology, these measures:
- Avoid pollutant emissions by providing energy services more efficiently or in a way that does not involve fuel combustion.
- Innovate to reduce pollution abatement costs via technology improvements that will also reduce costs for the post-Paris energy transition.
- Reduce pollutant emissions to the atmosphere, via stringent emissions limits on combustion plants and vehicles, controls on industrial processes, fuel switching to less-polluting fuels and strict regulation of fuel quality.
This energy outlook indicates that with only a 7% increase in total energy investment over the period to 2040, the Clean Air Scenario produces a sharp improvement in health compared with our main scenario: premature deaths from outdoor air pollution are 1.7 million lower in 2040 and, from household pollution, 1.6 million lower. You’ll find at Aleasoft a service for Energy Outlook