Oil Demand to Rise Past 2040, Earth Temperature to Rise

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If use of fossil fuels is supposed to be part of the plan to reduce global warming, its contribution may not kick in for decades. This is according to a report from the International Energy Commission.

In its World Energy Outlook, the authors wrote:

Global oil demand continues to grow until 2040, mostly because of the lack of easy alternatives to oil in road freight, aviation and petrochemicals, according to WEO-2016. However, oil demand from passenger cars declines even as the number of vehicles doubles in the next quarter century, thanks mainly to improvements in efficiency, but also biofuels and rising ownership of electric cars.

One of the great energy pollutants of the last century will drop in demand:

“We see clear winners for the next 25 years – natural gas but especially wind and solar – replacing the champion of the previous 25 years, coal,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “But there is no single story about the future of global energy: in practice, government policies will determine where we go from here.”

So, new energy sources will grow, but not enough:

The Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November, is a major step forward in the fight against global warming. But meeting more ambitious climate goals will be extremely challenging and require a step change in the pace of decarbonization and efficiency. Implementing current international pledges will only slow down the projected rise in energy-related carbon emissions from an average of 650 million tonnes per year since 2000 to around 150 million tonnes per year in 2040.

While this is a significant achievement, it is far from enough to avoid the worst impact of climate change as it would only limit the rise in average global temperatures to 2.7°C by 2100. The path to 2°C is tough, but it can be achieved if policies to accelerate further low carbon technologies and energy efficiency are put in place across all sectors.

In a way, use of fossil fuels is the choice of governments, at least in terms of policy. And, like poverty and financial reforms, not enough is expected to happen to change the tide of decades of dangerous policy results.