Net Zero 2050? Not What the Experts Predict.

Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2021. Robert Lyman’s bio can be read here.

On October 6, 2021, the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) published its International Energy Outlook 2021. The outlook report presented the organization’s projections of global energy supply, demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from now until 2050.

The EIA reference case projects that:
• global energy use will grow quickly from 2022 on. From a level of just under 600 quadrillion Btu in 2021, the reference case projects a rise to almost 900 quadrillion Btu by 2050. This is driven by a rise in the global population from about 7 billion in 2021 to over 8 billion in 2050, and a doubling of GDP in the non-OECD areas over that period.
• oil and natural gas liquids demand will continue to grow at a constant pace until at least 2050. By then, world oil demand will reach about 125 million barrels per day, well above the previous peak of 101 million barrels per day reached in 2019.
• global natural gas production will increase steadily to 2050, rising by about 30% between 2020 and 2050 (i.e., from just under 120 trillion cubic feet per year in 2020 to just over 180 trillion cubic feet per year by 2050).
• government mandates for increased use of renewable energy generation and relatively low natural gas prices will cause global demand for coal to decline from about 2022 to 2030. Thereafter, however, coal use for power generation is projected to increase, returning to the 2020 level by 2050.
• world electricity generation will increase from about 25 trillion kilowatt hours in 2020 to about 42 trillion kilowatt hours in 2050.
• energy-related GHG emissions will grow from about 35 billion tonnes per year in 2019 to about 43 billion tonnes per year in 2050.

Emissions in the non-OECD countries in 2050 will be 35% above 2020 levels (up by 7.9 billion tonnes), compared with a 5% growth (575 million tonnes) in OECD countries.

In other words, the outlook report finds that even after western governments spend over one trillion dollars per year over 30 years and severely impair their own economic wellbeing pursuing the goal of reduced global GHG emissions, those emissions will likely increase by over 8 billion tonnes per year. The net zero target won’t just be missed. The extremely costly efforts to achieve it will be utterly inconsequential to the world’s climate outcomes. You are unlikely to see this reported in the media.

Image licensed from Shutterstock.
  • Report and executive summary were updated Oct. 10, 2021 to correct a typo “The EIA report projects global energy use to rise from just under 600 quadrillion Btus (i.e. not 60 quadrillion Btus) to 900 quadrillion Btus.”


  1. Patrick Hunt

    Please government decision makers, please don’t waste my tax dollars on something that does not have a positive cost/benefit. If my elected leaders insist this analysis is wrong, please show me the courtesy of producing your cost/benefit calculations that disprove this analysis. Surely I am making a reasonable request when there are Trillions of dollars at stake.

  2. edmh

    Two reasonable guesses at future CO2 emissions and the part played by the West

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