Global energy demand could double over the next 50 years, driving innovations that will see emissions of carbon dioxide drop to near- zero by 2100, under two predictive scenarios released by oil company Shell.
Nevertheless, under both scenarios, emissions remain on a trajectory to overshoot the target of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, Shell said.
Shell’s two New Lens Scenarios, called “Mountains” and “Oceans,” look at trends in the economy, politics and energy as far ahead as 2100, particularly emphasizing the critical role government policies could play in shaping the future.
The Mountain scenario sees a strong role for government, alongside policies that make natural gas the largest global energy source by the 2030s, accelerating carbon capture and storage technology.
The Oceans scenario forecasts a more prosperous world, where market forces rather than policies shape the energy system. The Oceans scenario forecasts that oil and coal will remain part of the energy mix, but renewables also grow and by 2060 solar becomes the world’s largest energy source. Elevated demand for coal and oil, and a lack of support for CCS combined with less natural gas development outside of North America, contributes to about 25 percent higher total greenhouse gas emissions than in the Mountains scenario.
Under the Oceans scenario, the elevated levels of CO2 are clearly shown to be linked with increases in extreme climate events by the 2050s, ultimately driving policy changes and the deployment of CCS and other technologies. CCS grows from 5 percent of energy generation emissions captured in 2050 to 25 percent by 2075. By the end of the century, almost all emissions could be captured, or offset.
A poll released this month by research consultancy GlobeScan found the economic crisis and lack of governmental leadership on green issues has pushed concern about the environment among citizens around the world to 20-year lows.
Participants in GlobeScan Radar were asked how serious they consider each of six environmental problems: air pollution, water pollution, species loss, automobile emissions, fresh water shortages, and climate change. On five of the six, fewer people now consider the issue “very serious” than at any time since tracking began 20 years ago. Concerns have been falling since 2009, the poll shows.