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IEA: World Energy Use Will Keep Growing, Renewables Making Inroads

Over the next quarter of a century, global energy use is predicted to increase by one-third, though not in some of the countries you might expect.

PARIS — Global energy use is set to grow by one-third over the next 25 years, driven mostly by emerging economies, with energy use in the most developed countries expected to decline over the same period, according to research released earlier this week by the International Energy Agency.

Within the pages of its annual World Energy Outlook, the IEA said the main drivers for increased overall energy consumption will be India, China, Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

But energy use is projected to drop by 15% by 2040 in the European Union, 12% in Japan and 3% in the United States on the back of increased energy efficiency, energy savings and demographic trends.

The use of low-carbon fuels and technologies is on the rise, and the share of non-fossil fuels in the total mix is set to increase to 25% by 2040 from 19 now, the Paris-based IEA said.

This trend confirmed what the IEA called a “tantalizing hint” that economic growth will no longer systematically translate into higher CO2 emissions.

“Pledges made in advance of COP21” — a key UN climate change summit taking place in Paris from the end of this month, tasked with producing a climate rescue pact — “promise to give new impetus to the move towards a lower-carbon and more efficient energy system, but do not alter the picture of rising global needs for energy,” the IEA noted.

Among fossil fuels, natural gas, which is the least carbon-intensive, is the only one expected to see its share rise, the IEA report added.

“Where it replaces more carbon-intensive fuels or backs up the integration of renewables, natural gas is a good fit for a gradually decarbonizing energy system,” the IEA said.

As demand for oil picks up, the oil price is expected to recover gradually to reach $80 per barrel in 2020, the IEA said. In the following two decades oil demand is likely to level off as governments continue to reduce subsidies and there is further momentum toward energy efficiency and alternative energy sources.

With less than three weeks to go before the start of that crucial COP21 conference, the IEA said an ongoing policy shift was not enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

“There are unmistakable signs that the much-needed global energy transition is underway, but not yet at a pace that leads to a lasting reversal of the trend of rising CO2 emissions,” it said.

The world still needed a “clear and credible vision of long-term decarbonization” to combat climate change.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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