We are on the path to climate chaos, Big Oil has admitted. Both BP and Exxon have conceded that progress on climate change is totally insufficient to stabilize CO2 emissions. Both oil companies have just published their Energy Outlooks, and the outlook looks grim.
In a bleak prognosis for success on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, BP admits in its new Energy Outlook 2030 report, which was published yesterday, that global CO2 emissions from energy will grow an average of 1.2 percent a year through 2030. In total, BP’s chief economist Christof Ruehl predicts “to the best of our knowledge,” CO2 emissions will rise by 27 percent over the next two decades, meaning an increase of about 33bn tons. All this does not bode well for climate change, with even Bob Dudley calling the scenarios a “wake-up call“:
I need to emphasize that this is a projection, not a proposition. It is our dispassionate view of what we believe is most likely to happen on the basis of the evidence. For example, we are not as optimistic as others about progress in reducing carbon emissions. But that doesn’t mean we oppose such progress. As you probably know, BP has a 15 year record of calling for more action from governments, including the wide application of a carbon price. Our base case assumes that countries continue to make some progress on addressing climate change, based on the current and expected level of political commitment. But overall, for me personally, it is a wake-up call, not something any of us would like to see happening.
BP’s estimate is just higher than ExxonMobil, which believes that CO2 emissions will increase by 25 percent in 20 years, which, according to John Vidal, writing in The Guardian, in effect dismisses “hopes that runaway climate change can be arrested and massive loss of life prevented.”
These projections by BP and Exxon scientists are even gloomier the projections of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which projectst that energy-related CO2 emissions will “grow by 16 percent from 2009 to 2035.” Exxon argues that oil will still be king in 2030:
In 2030, fossil fuels remain the predominant energy source, accounting for nearly 80 percent of demand. Oil still leads, but natural gas moves into second place on very strong growth of 1.8% a year on average, particularly because of its position as a favored fuel for power generation. Other energy types – particularly nuclear, wind, solar and biofuels – will grow sharply, albeit from a smaller base. Nuclear and renewable fuels will see strong growth, particularly in the power-generation sector. By 2030, about 40 percent of the world’s electricity will be generated by nuclear and renewable fuels.
BP too has demand for fossil fuels rising: BP’s “base case” “” or most likely projection “” points to primary energy use growing by nearly 40 percent over the next twenty years, with 93% of the growth coming from non-OECD countries. The BP report argues that world energy growth over the next twenty years is expected to be dominated by emerging economies such as China, India, Russia and Brazil. Natural gas is also expected to be the fastest growing fossil fuel, with coal and oil losing market share as fossil fuels as a whole experience a slow decline in growth, falling from 83 percent to 64 percent. Coal will increase by 1.2 percent per year and by 2030 it is likely to provide virtually as much energy as oil, excluding biofuels.
There is some good news that energy diversification will continue. Between 2010 to 2030 the contribution to energy growth of renewables (solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels) is seen to increase from 5 to 18 percent.
What oil there is left is predominantly under OPEC control. OPEC’s share of global oil production is set to increase to 46%, a position not seen since 1977, the decade that saw the cartel preside over a series of oil shocks and shortages. In fact, 75 percent of all growth in oil reserves over the next two decades is expected to come from OPEC nations, which include Kuwait, Iran, Angola, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Nigeria.
JR: Of course as much as BP claims it would not like to see continued rapid growth in carbon pollution, the UK’s Independent reported last year, “Oil giant BP today signalled it would press on with a controversial Canadian tar sands project despite facing a showdown with environmental campaigners and shareholders.”
The tar sands are among the most carbon-intensive of replacements for conventional petroleum (see “Tar sands — Still dirty after all these years“):
X-axis is the range of potential resource in billions of barrels. Y-axis is grams of Carbon per MegaJoule of final fuel.
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