Released on 14 November, the 2017 edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO) introduces a new scenario, the Sustainable Development Scenario which describes an integrated path to achieve three critical goals: climate stabilisation, cleaner air and universal access to modern energy.
Unlike the WEO’s other scenarios, which track current and planned policies, the Sustainable Development Scenario goes the other way around and starts from a set of desired outcomes. Specifically, the Sustainable Development Scenario shows how universal access to energy can be achieved by 2030, while halving energy-related CO2emissions and premature deaths from air pollution by 2040.
In the Sustainable Development Scenario, the share of low-carbon sources in the energy mix doubles to 40% in 2040, energy efficiency is increased, demand for coal immediately declines, power generation is decarbonised, and electric vehicles are quickly mainstreamed.
The WEO 2017 also forecasts four shifts in the international energy system. The report predicts a 30% growth in global energy demand by 2040, met mostly by natural gas, renewables, and energy efficiency. Electricity demand, spurred by increased use of electrical appliances and the electrification of heating and transportation, is predicted to rise to 40% of final energy consumption by 2040. As China’s economy transitions toward a services-based model, it is expected to increasingly rely on electricity, natural gas, and cleaner, high-efficiency, and digital technologies to slow demand growth from 8% per year between 2000-2012 to 1% per year by 2040. The WEO also expects that the US will become a net exporter of oil and natural gas by the late 2020’s spurred by cost-effective tight oil and shale gas production.
Even if under the New Policies Scenario the Green House Gas (GHG) emissions are expected to remain constant, without implementation of the Sustainable Development Scenario, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicts that 675 million people will lack access to electricity in 2030, while 2.3 billion will continue to suffer from household air pollution emitted by cooking fuels and that this will not be enough to mitigate the impacts of climate change.