The challenge of meeting global energy needs and managing the risks of climate change is real – and daunting. Real in that billions of people need reliable, affordable energy every day, and daunting in the fact that people and governments in every nation have a variety of important goals and limited financial resources to address them. Progress on energy and climate objectives requires practical approaches that will contribute to both without stifling economic costs.
Governments bear a unique responsibility in this regard. A key challenge is to develop and implement policies that focus emission-reduction efforts on low-cost options. This approach will help promote better living standards while reducing emissions.
The long-term nature of the climate challenge promises an evolution of available solutions as knowledge expands, technology advances and markets adapt. Policies that promote innovation and flexibility afforded by competition and free markets will be critical to help ensure nations pursue the most cost-effective opportunities to reduce global GHG emissions and meet people’s energy needs.
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Energy-related CO2 emissions peak
- Global CO2 emissions rose close to 40 percent from 2000 to 2016, despite a roughly 10 percent decline in emissions in Europe and North America
- Global CO2 emissions are likely to peak by 2040, at about 10 percent above 2016 levels
- Combined CO2 emissions in Europe and North America fall about 15 percent by 2040 versus 2016
- China contributed about 60 percent of the growth in emissions from 2000 to 2016; its emissions peak about 2030, and gradually decline toward the 2016 level in 2040
- Emissions outside North America, Europe and China rise about 35 percent from 2016 to 2040, with the share of global emissions reaching 50 percent by 2040
All sectors contributing to restrain CO2 emissions growth
- Electricity generation accounts for about 40 percent of energy-related CO2 emissions; a shift to less carbon-intensive sources of electricity (e.g. wind, solar, nuclear and natural gas) will help reduce the CO2 intensity of delivered electricity by more than 30 percent
- Transportation represents about 25 percent of CO2 emissions, and this share is likely to grow modestly to 2040 driven by expanding commercial transportation activity
- Light-duty vehicle CO2 emissions are expected to decline close to 10 percent from 2025 to 2040 as more efficient conventional vehicles and electric cars gain significant share
- Industrial sector activities account for about 30 percent of CO2 emissions; over the outlook, efficiency gains and growing use of less carbon-intensive energy will help reduce industrial CO2 emissions relative to GDP by about 50 percent
Restraining energy-related CO2 emissions
- The primary driver of increasing global CO2 emissions between 2000 and 2016 was economic growth, as global GDP expanded about 55 percent
- Improving energy efficiency across economies (energy use per unit of GDP) helped slow the growth in emissions, while CO2 intensity of energy use remained fairly constant
- As economic growth continues to drive CO2 emissions through 2040, efficiency gains and a shift to less CO2-intensive energy will each help substantially moderate emissions
- As the world’s economy nearly doubles by 2040, energy efficiency gains and a shift in the energy mix will contribute to a nearly 45 percent decline in the carbon intensity of global GDP
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