Despite the urgency to cut greenhouse gas emissions as climate change bears down on the globe, fossil fuel use is not likely to change much in the coming decades. Though renewable energy will grow quickly though 2040, gasoline and diesel will still move most of the world’s vehicles, and coal will still be the largest single source of carbon emissions.
Those are the conclusions of a forecast released by the federal government on Wednesday for how the world will use energy and what its carbon dioxide emissions will be over the next 25 years.
Gasoline and diesel will likely remain the globe’s biggest transportation fuels in the coming decades.
Credit: Michael Kappel/flickr
Here are five things to know about the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s World Energy Outlook 2016 and what it might mean for the climate:
Global carbon emissions from energy consumption are expected to grow at an average rate of 1 percent per year between 2012 and 2040, growing a total 34 percent in that time as fossil fuels provide the world with more than three quarters of its energy.
“With existing policies and regulations, worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will go from about 32 billion metric tons in 2012 to something like 43 billion metric tons out to the year 2040,” EIA administrator Adam Sieminski said.
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Developed countries are expected see their carbon emissions increase about 9 percent through 2040, but in the developing world, those emissions will spike 51 percent.
That’s because developing countries, particularly China and India, are likely to continue to rely mainly on fossil fuels for their energy. Those countries alone account for 59 percent of the growth in global carbon emissions.
Unless there are unexpected changes in global climate policy over the next 25 years, coal will still be the world’s king of carbon emissions in 2040.
Coal is expected to account for 38 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2040, down from 43 percent in 2012. Annual growth of coal use by that time is expected to be about 0.6 percent. In 1990, coal was responsible for 39 percent of global carbon emissions. Natural gas, by comparison, will account for 26 percent of global carbon emissions in 2040, up from 20 percent in 2012.
China is the world’s leader in coal consumption. With recent announcements that the country will reduce its use of coal by closing down power plants and shuttering mines, the EIA expects the country’s coal use to peak by 2025 thanks to the its economic slowdown and pledge to cut emissions.