On November 12, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its annual World Energy Outlook report in London, where it spelled out the current energy supply situation. The report revealed that Asia and the Middle East are slated to become the world's major energy consumers in the next two decades, and that in order to make a serious dent in carbon emissions, the world will need to do a better job creating new green energy solutions.
Overall, global energy demand is predicted to grow by 33 percent by 2035. India and Southeast Asia will play a major role in that growth while China's consumption will tail off somewhat. The report highlighted what the IEA called a difficult "trilemma": The need to balance energy security, sustainability and economic vitality.
To demonstrate this problem, one needs to consider that those areas where energy consumption will grow the fastest are also countries experiencing significant economic expansion. Countries such as India and Brazil have created relatively enormous wealth for their citizens in the last decade and should continue to see such returns for many more years. However, as their economies grow, so will their demand for energy. This presents two problems:
- If this energy demand is met with conventional fossil fuels, it will result in an increase in emissions that will accelerate warming trends and create ecological disaster
- The rise in demand will also raise energy prices, thereby slowing growth in other countries and inhibiting their ability to address the consequences of climate change.
The IEA's report demonstrates the difficult decisions and challenges that the world faces as more of its citizens come to rely on oil and gas. It also reinforces the point made by advocates of green technology that countries should continue investing heavily in renewable sources that can be scaled up and commercialized in the developing world.
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