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In three charts – the dual challenge

Release date:
4 June 2019
How can society meet the world’s rising demand for energy while addressing the need to drastically reduce carbon emissions? BP’s Energy Outlook data sets out some of the challenges ahead

The next 20 years could be pivotal in the challenge to provide a sustainable supply of energy to the world. That’s the picture that emerges from BP’s Energy Outlook 2019 report.


It shows the need for more energy to support continued global economic growth and rising prosperity, together with the need for carbon emissions to fall dramatically. 


“The Outlook again brings into sharp focus just how fast the world’s energy systems are changing, and how the dual challenge of more energy with fewer emissions is framing the future.”


Bob Dudley, group chief executive 



Three charts in particular lay bare this dual challenge. 

For some six billion people, more energy would be life-changing.


For the first time, BP’s economists have looked at just how much energy is needed to raise living standards the world over. And it’s a lot.


There’s a level at which energy consumption is associated with substantial increases in human development and wellbeing – the UN suggests up to approximately 100 Gigajoules consumed per person.


Right now, however, 80% of the world’s population live in countries where energy consumption falls below this level. 


Reducing that number to one-third of the population by 2040 would require around 65% more energy than today, the equivalent to China’s 2017 consumption.

On current trends, carbon emissions from energy use grow by around 7% to 2040, when to be consistent with the Paris climate goals, emissions need to fall by around half in the same time frame.


The Outlook has looked at a ‘rapid transition’ scenario, in which a range of policy measures are deployed, leading to carbon emissions falling by around 45%.


Between now and 2040, the rapid transition scenario suggests a step change is needed in the efficient use of energy, with renewables replacing coal in the power sector, along with widespread use of carbon capture, use and storage in both the power and industrials sectors.

Emissions from energy will need to fall in all areas of industry. The Energy Outlook's rapid transition scenario shows that  the greatest area of opportunity lies within decarbonising the power sector. It represents the largest source of carbon emissions from energy use and is where policy interventions could have a dramatic impact.


Low carbon solutions in the transportation sector, such as the shift to electric vehicles, offer a smaller impact overall. 


Did carbon emissions grow last year?

BP’s Energy Outlook considers the forces shaping the global energy transition out to 2040. Next week, BP's economists will unveil its Statistical Review of World Energy. Instead of looking ahead, this report looks back to the previous year, providing the most comprehensive and timely data for the global energy system. The report will answer questions on energy demand and the rate of carbon emissions for 2018. 


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