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The non-combusted use of fuels continues to grow, but at much reduced rates

Non-combusted demand by fuel
Non-combusted demand by fuel
Oil feedstock for plastics and fibres
Oil feedstock for plastics and fibres

The non-combusted use of fuels – predominantly as feedstocks for petrochemicals, bitumen and ‎fertilizers – is an important source of incremental demand for fossil fuels, although less than in ‎the past 20 years as environmental pressures increase.‎

The non-combusted use of fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) grows at an average rate of 1.1% p.a. in BAU, less than half the rate seen over the past 20 years (2.7% p.a.). This deceleration largely reflects actions to both increase the level of recycling – recycling rates roughly double from current levels to around one third by 2050 – and encourage a shift away from the use of some manufactured products, such as single-use plastics and fertilizers.

These actions are greatly intensified in Rapid and Net Zero, with increased use of chemical ‎recycling and a focus on reducing the demand for some products and increasing the reuse of ‎others. As a result, the growth of non-combusted fuels in Rapid (0.5% p.a.) is half that of BAU, with use gradually declining in the 2040s. In Net Zero, the use of non-combusted fuels peaks ‎around 10-years earlier and by 2050 is around 25% below current levels. ‎

Oil accounts for almost two-thirds of the growth in non-combusted fuels out to 2050 in BAU and ‎around half in Rapid, driven in large part by the production of plastics and fibres. The actions to ‎reduce, reuse and recycle plastics means that the level of oil used in the production of plastics by ‎‎2050 is around 3 Mb/d lower in BAU and 6 Mb/d in Rapid relative to an extrapolation of past ‎trends linked to the growth in economic activity and prosperity. These trends are even more pronounced in Net Zero, with oil demand by 2050 2 Mb/d below current levels and 10 Mb/d below an extrapolation of past trends.