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IEA hopes climate pact won't delay greenhouse cuts

By Rod McGuirk
Associated Press / December 11, 2011
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CANBERRA, Australia—The chief economist of the International Energy Agency said Monday he welcomes a new U.N. climate change agreement but hopes it will not cause countries to put off action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the next decade.

A 194-party climate change conference in Durban reached a hard-fought agreement on Sunday to start negotiations on a new accord under which countries would be legally bound to carry out any pledges they make. It would take effect by 2020 at the latest.

"The good news is for the first time we have a roadmap that is supported and signed by all the governments that need to be involved," IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told an energy conference in Canberra.

"However the question mark I have in my mind is I hope that this roadmap wouldn't lead some of the countries not to act for the next 10 years," he added.

The 28-nation IEA seeks to ensure stable, affordable and clean energy. It warned last month that the world is hurtling toward irreversible climate change and will lose the chance to limit global warming if it doesn't take bold action in the next five years.

In its annual World Energy Outlook, the agency spelled out the consequences if those steps aren't taken and what needs to be done to cap global temperature increases at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels. That's the threshold beyond which some scientists have said catastrophic changes could be triggered.

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