The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released a new report which states that developing countries will account for 65 percent of the world's energy consumption by 2040. This is an increase of 20 percent overall from 2010, when developing countries, or those not belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), accounted for 54 percent of worldwide energy use.
OECD countries will continue to see a growth in energy consumption, but only at a rate of 0.5 percent per year, which aligns roughly with population growth. Non-OECD countries, particularly China and India, will see a much higher rate of growth at 2.2 percent. The main reason for this expansion is the fact that developing nations have the largest section of the world's population, and will continue to grow much faster than OECD countries.
At the same time, both developing and non-developing nations will become more efficient, requiring less energy to produce the same GDP over time. In 2005, the world used about 8 British thermal units (BTU) of energy for ever dollar of GDP. By 2040, the EIA predicts that only 4 BTUs will be used for each dollar.
What the new data shows is that climate change is much more of a global problem than many people realize, and that it won't be enough for the United States to become more efficient and switch to renewable energy sources. While doing so would certainly be a positive step, it is evident that reliance on coal power in China and India is going to have drastic consequences for the environment if alternatives are not quickly identified and deployed in those countries.