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Businesses warn global energy demand could triple by 2050

In short:
Economic growth in the developing world combined with rising population trends mean that global energy demand could double or triple by 2050, putting a growing strain on the earth's climate.

  By 2050, global energy demand could double or triple as populations rise and developing countries expand their economies, a new report by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has warned.

If these trends are not curbed, global temperatures could rise by one to four degrees by the end of the century, leading to disruptive consequences to the earth's climate, says the new report by WBCSD "Facts and trends to 2050 - Energy and climate change".

The report considers the technological and policy options needed to overcome the threat of climate change but warns that it will take time to implement them at global level.

Presenting the report at the World Energy Congress in Sydney, Australia, Anne Lauvergeon, Chairman of the Executive Board, AREVA, and a co-chair of the WBCSD’s Energy and Climate programme, explained that the pace of change in the energy cycle is slow. "It is like a super-tanker," she said. "It takes time to change direction, so you must anticipate, otherwise the consequences may spiral out of control."

The report advocates a "decoupling of the current direct link between standards of living and energy consumption" as a reduction in growth is "not an acceptable path". It says a stabilisation in CO2 emissions responsible for climate change would require a "step change (r)evolution in our energy infrastructure" based on resources and technologies such as:

  • A further shift to natural gas
  • An increased use of nuclear energy
  • Renewables
  • Biofuels and biomass
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Large-scale public transportation and low emissions/clean road transport
  • Energy-efficiency measures

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