Bioethics Blogs

Energy outlook sees continuing dominance of fossil fuels

Just as the United States and China agreed on a landmark deal to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, the world’s leading energy think tank says that demand for fossil fuels is likely to keep growing for at least another 20 years.


In its latest World Energy Outlook, released on 12 November, the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that global consumption of primary energy — the energy contained in raw fossil fuels — will increase by 37% by 2040, driven mostly by growing demand in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

Crude-oil consumption is expected to rise from the current 90 million barrels a day to 104 million barrels a day, but demand for oil will plateau by 2040, according to IEA scenarios. Coal demand will already peak in the 2020s, thanks to efforts such as China’s to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions. But the demand for natural gas, the only fossil fuel that in the IEA’s scenarios is still growing after 2040, will rise by more than half, the report says.

The output from US shale projects, which has been booming — propelling the country to become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas — is expected to decline in the 2020s, the IEA says. Even so, there are sufficient untapped resources to meet the growth in consumption. And despite a recent slump in the prices of oil and gas, the IEA warns that rising tensions in parts of the Middle East and in Ukraine pose incalculable threats to global energy security.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.