September 20, 2011
The Energy Information Administration released a report global energy demand which predicts, among other things, that renewable sources will be the fastest-increasing energy category in the next 25 years. Renewable energy demand is expected to climb 2.8 percent a year over the period and will make up 15 percent of the total in 2035, up from 10 percent in 2008. On the downside, the report, the International Energy Outlook 2011, estimates that energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide will rise 43 percent, to 43.2 billion metric tons, from 2008 to 2035, with much of that increase occurring in developing countries. Overall, global energy demand is expected to increase 53 percent from 2008 through 2035, with China and India accounting for half of the growth.
These figures suggest that the carbon intensity of the world’s energy supply will be decreasing over the next 25 years; while energy demand is expected to grow by 53 percent, carbon emissions are expected to increase by 43 percent. The increase in renewable energy sources likely accounts for this reduced carbon intensity, as well as increased use of natural gas to displace coal-fired electricity generation. But a 43 percent increase in carbon emissions over the next 25 years is still disturbing, and suggests an urgent need for a successor global treaty on climate change that will provide the structure and price signal to stimulate emissions reductions.