Energy economist Robert Lyman summarizes the recent BP Global Energy Outlook report. Claims of a ‘low-carbon’ future are not upon us.

Contributed by Robert Lyman @ June 2016

British Petroleum, one of the largest energy companies in the world, recently issued its 2016 updated projections of global energy supply and demand to 2035. BP is a widely respected analyst of energy markets. Based in the United Kingdom, it is very sensitive to the demands of European governments that the alleged threat of human-induced catastrophic global warming be taken seriously, and so it accepts the presumption that the political commitments made by several governments at the COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015 will be honoured in practice. Its projections are therefore based on a combination of market-based analysis and politically influenced assumptions about international actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


Given this, one might expect that BP’s projections about the changes that will occur in the world energy economy to 2035 might be closely in keeping with the political statements coming from European leaders. The European Commission has adopted the goal of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 and is hoping to attain a reduction of global emissions by 60 to 70% by 2050. BP’s projections don’t entirely fit the script.


BP projects that despite significant economic and population growth over the next 19 years, there will be an unprecedented improvement in energy efficiency, leading to much lower energy and emissions intensity per unit of GDP. It also assumes that governments will continue large subsidies to renewable energy sources and that the costs of these sources will decline sharply.  It endorses the need for carbon taxes as a way to accelerate the “progress”.


Now, for the “bad news” – if you are dreaming of a ‘low-carbon economy’…according to BP’s projections:


  • Fossil fuels, currently about 89% of global energy supplies, will provide around 60% of the additional energy and still account for 80% of energy supplies in 2035.
  • Oil demand will increase by almost 20 million barrels per day over the Outlook.
  • The increase in world energy consumption will be driven by the growing economies of Asia. China and India, followed by Southeast Asia and eventually Africa will drive energy and fossil fuel use significant higher. Total energy consumption will increase by 34% between 2014 and 2035.
  • Natural gas is the fastest growing fossil fuel; its share in primary energy use will rise gradually over time.
  • The growth in coal consumption will slow sharply, as the share of coal used in electricity generation declines from 43% to around 33%. Overall, however, coal consumption continues to rise at the rate of about 0.5% per year throughout the period.
  • Oil, now about 97% of transportation energy demand, will constitute 88% by 2035; natural gas will provide 8%.
  • Transportation energy demand declines in the OECD because of significant improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency, but the growth in vehicle ownership and use in the non-OECD area more than offsets this.
  • The global vehicle fleet (commercial vehicles and passenger cars) more than doubles from 1.2 billion today to over 2.4 billion by 2035.
  • While the rate of carbon emissions growth declines, the level of emissions continues to grow, increasing by 20% between 2014 and 2035.
  • By 2035, global carbon dioxide emissions are projected to be about 38 billion tonnes, far above the targets set by the European Union and COP21.


What the BP Outlook illustrates but does not state explicitly is that virtually all the growth in greenhouse gas emissions over the period to 2035 will take place in the developing countries, in areas where the growth in energy use is driven by people’s desire for economic development and improvement in their standards of living. This growth is beyond the control of western governments or their environmental lobbies.


50559-FriendsOfScienceDHP_3 pattison digi final oct 26


  1. renewableguy

    It will be interesting to see which energy projection comes true. Over half of new energy installed was renewable energy. Projections by 2040 is that 60% of energy will be renewable energy.

    Dr Al Hajri said, “At the Paris Agreement on climate change, in December 2015, government leaders agreed that renewables were key to reducing green house gasses. Something we know about the solar industry is that as the costs of producing electricity reduces, the number of installations increase remarkably, and we are seeing this right across the world today.”

    As of 2015, the renewable energy sector growth accounts for more than half of all new power generation worldwide. It is projected that by 2040 the amount of energy produced from renewables will increase to 60 percent, with the solar energy sector having the majority share at 26 percent.

  2. renewableguy

    This is getting into the business community and being absorbed into the culture. When we choose clean over dirty as culture, this will change.

    As part of their contribution to sustainable transport, environmentally friendly vehicles reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to energy independence by reducing oil imports.

    Going green is not a choice anymore, it is a responsibility. That is why it is so important to try and do the small things that can help change the outlook of the planet. In fact, many of the things we can do, we actually already do! Just a little thing such as sorting our garbage into what can be recycled, or using less water, and generally consuming fewer resources does not require much effort on our part

    • Robert Lyman

      Renewable guy, I think you are preaching to the wrong audience here. If you read my articles or the ones by experts to whom I refer, you will see that electric vehicles, despite extremely high government subsidies, are not being sold in very large numbers (2% of vehicle sales in Canada, despite huge taxpayer subsidies). “Going green” amounts to a silly slogan that hides a concerted effort to harm business, workers and consumers through extremely invasive regulations and taxes.

      • renewableguy

        Actually the gauntlet has been thrown down as to who will win the race on electric car market penetration. It appears to be Tesla so far. In the large luxury car market, the Tesla Model S is the leader in car sales. They are outselling the gasoline luxury cars now. You don’t go electric you lose. Between Tesla and GM, they both will have 200 mile range electric cars on the market in 2016 or 17. We are just seeing the beginning.

        Norway to ‘completely ban petrol powered cars by 2025’
        ‘What an amazingly awesome country’, Elon Musk tweeted in response to the plan

        Politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have reportedly reached some concrete conclusions about 100 per cent of Norwegian cars running on green energy by 2025.

        According to Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv, “FRP will remove all gasoline cars”, a headline which makes reference to the populist right-wing Framstegspartiet, or Progress Party.

  3. renewableguy

    The growth in renewable energy is the largest energy growth world wide.

    Global Renewables Overview

    2015 saw record additions of renewable energy around the world, as well as high-profile agreements and announcements related to renewable energy. An estimated 147 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity was added in 2015 – the largest annual increase ever – and in spite of continued low prices for fossil fuels. Wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) had record additions for the second consecutive year. In the power sector global capacity reached 1,849 gigawatts (GW), up 8.7% over 2014. Hydropower rose by a modest 2.7% to 1,064 GW, and other renewables collectively grew by 18% to reach 785 GW.

    • Robert Lyman

      Notice that the additions all refer to generation capacity and dollar spent. The United States and Asia are spending more, while Europe seems to have learned its lesson and is spending far less. The capacity utilization, however, is quite low, so all that spending on generation has only a marginal effect on electricity supply. Further, the countries spending on wind and solar face ever-higher problems and costs having to invest in load balancing generation capacity (typically coal or natural gas-fired) and higher transmission costs. Consumer pay twice, and pay dearly.

      • renewableguy

        I just found this today. 6 new corporations have joined the RE 100 group pledging to do 100% renewable energy.

        Corporations and governments intensified the renewable energy push last week. Six global companies joined RE100 with commitments to 100 percent renewable energy across their operations, coinciding with a government-led Corporate Sourcing of Renewables campaign that launched at the Seventh Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7) in San Francisco.

        The renewables campaign, led by the Danish and German governments, is encouraging business in CEM member countries to join RE100, a global initiative of top businesses such as Unilever, Starbucks, Nike, HP and Johnson & Johnson, committed to 100 percent renewable electricity. Led by The Climate Group and CDP, RE100 works with companies to help them transition to renewable energy sources.

        The six new companies that joined RE100 are: global interconnection and data center provider Equinix, Swedish food processing and packaging giant Tetra Pak, Canadian financial leader TD Bank Group, carpet manufacturer Interface, global advertising group Dentsu Aegis Network, and global enterprise cloud applications provider Workday.

        The new joiners take the total number of companies in RE100 to 65.

        When they meet their 100 percent renewables goals, the six new companies will create demand for more than 4,000GWh of renewable energy per year, according to The Climate Group.

        Read more:

  4. renewableguy

    A lot of really good things are happening in the world. A country that is dependent on oil income is moving away from using oil itself in its autos. Norway does not have the influence of fossil fuels on its government that Canada does.

    Norway to ‘completely ban all petrol powered cars by 2025’
    ‘What an amazingly awesome country’, Elon Musk tweeted in response to the plan

    Yet while the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party have corroborated Dagens Naeringsliv’s report, the FRP have said the move is still being looked at, according to Aftenposten.

    If the measure is fully confirmed, it would be more ambitious than the Labour Party’s proposal that no new diesel or petrol cars should be sold by 2030.

    The four parties, who rule together through a system of proportional representation, have also agreed a new climate tax on electricity.

    About 24 per cent of the country’s cars already run on electricity, and it is a heavy producer of renewable energy with more than 99 per cent of electricity covered by hydropower.

  5. renewableguy

    Oil companies are investing renewable energy. There must be something good there for them.

    June 7 (SeeNews) – Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major Royal Dutch Shell Plc (AMS:RDSA) today confirmed it intends to build a new energies portfolio that would include biofuels, hydrogen, solar and wind assets.

    Last month, The Guardian reported that Shell had set up a division that will invest in renewable and low-carbon energy projects, including wind power. According to the article, the annual spending of the New Energies segment is expected to approximate USD 200 million (EUR 176m).

    (USD 1.0 = EUR 0.881)

  6. Ken Gregory

    “Going green” is what the plant Earth is doing as plants and trees grow bigger and faster and use water more efficiently. CO2 is the greenest gas, and we have a responsibility to emit as much of it as possible. A paper published in Nature Climate Change in April 2016 shows a widespread increase of growing season over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, with the CO2 fertilization effect explaining 70% of the observed greening trend. According to the FUND integrated assessment model, Canada benefits from emissions by 1.9% of gross domestic product by 2100, equivalent to a benefit of $190 Billion annually in 2015 dollars when assuming an ECS of 3 °C. Anthropogenic climate change will have only positive impacts in Canada which increase throughout the 21st century. The majority of the developing world will expand their use of fossil fuels to increase their standard of living and live expectancy.

Leave a Reply! Please be courteous and respectful; profanity will not be tolerated.

Privacy Policy Cookies Policy
©2002-2024 Friends of Science Society
Friends of Science Calgary