Full Title: Global Energy Outlook 2020: Energy Transition or Energy Addition?
Author(s): Richard Newell, Daniel Raimi, Seth Villanueva, and Brian Prest
Publisher(s): Resources for the Future (RFF)
Publication Date: May 20, 2020
Full Text: Download Resource
Global energy consumption has grown rapidly over the past century, driven by an expanding population and increasing prosperity. Demand has risen for virtually all sources—coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear energy, and renewables. These “additions” to the global energy system reflect broadly positive trends of higher living standards, decreasing global poverty, and longer livelihoods. At the same time, rising fossil fuel consumption is the leading cause of global climate change and creates other major environmental challenges. To address these challenges, the global energy system will need to undergo a clean energy transition, whereby sources of energy that emit greenhouse gases are replaced by increasingly cleaner sources. In this annual report, we review and compare—on an apples-to-apples basis—recent long-term projections from some of the world’s leading energy institutions. These projections suggest that the world may be on the cusp of its first true energy transition, but also that more ambitious public policies and technological innovations are needed to satisfy the energy demands of the world’s growing population while also achieving long-term environmental goals. As the projections presented here were all generated well before the onset of COVID-19, they do not reflect the unprecedented global changes that have occurred in recent months. However, throughout the paper, we have added discussion boxes to address how COVID-19 might affect the projections presented, particularly in the short run.