The Riches and Perils of the Fossil Fuel Era

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If nations could agree a carbon tax, it would help create a more efficient, less polluting future

Our ancestors lived in eras we call the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Ours is the “fossil-fuel age”. The energy we have extracted from the earth’s reserves of fossilised sunlight has spread (unequally shared) abundance across humanity. Will this continue? Can we manage its impact on our environment? The answers will shape the future of our complex global civilisation.

As always, BP’s Energy Outlook provides a glimpse into a possible future. No doubt, its forecasts will be wrong. But it tells us what well-informed people at the heart of the oil and gas industry consider “the likely path of global energy markets to 2035”. It puts forward five important propositions about a plausible energy future.

First, global economic output is forecast to rise by 115 per cent by 2035. Asian emerging economies — principally China and India — are expected to generate more than 60 per cent of that increase.

The primary driver of the rise in global output is expected to be a 75 per cent jump in global average real output per head, as the prosperity of emerging economies catches up with that of high-income countries. Population growth plays a distinctly subsidiary role. It is not the number of people, but rather their prosperity, that drives demand for commercial energy.

 

Article from Financial Times, read full story