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China to drive global energy surge

Paris, France — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 11 November 2010 – China will drive a surge in world energy demand over the next quarter century, as straining supply enhances OPEC’s oil market share and growing coal use undermines efforts to contain global warming.

“Chinese energy demand will jump 75%, accounting for more than a third of an increase in energy use that will bring global consumption to 16.7 billion metric tonnes of oil equivalent by 2035,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast in its annual World Energy Outlook. “Oil supplies will be pushed near their peak, thwarting government pledges to limit the rise in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius,” it said.

“Oil market developments and growth in CO2 emissions are my greatest concern,” IEA chief economist Fatih Birol said in a telephone interview from Paris. “Demand from emerging markets will be strong. There is a lack of united political will to reduce carbon emissions.”

Global oil demand will increase 18% to 99 million barrels a day in 2035, from 84 million a day in 2009, the IEA said. The agency lowered its 2035 estimate for oil use by 6 million barrels a day because of government pledges to curtail carbon emissions under the Copenhagen Accord signed last December.

Consumption of natural gas will increase 44% to 4.5 trillion cubic meters in 2035, from 3.1 trillion cubic meters in 2008, according to the agency. The share of nuclear power in the energy mix will rise to 8% in 2035, from 6% in 2008, while the proportion of renewable resources will grow to 14 percent from 7 p%, the IEA said.

“Still, reliance on fossil fuels means that emissions of carbon dioxide will increase 21% to 35 billion tonnes in 2035 from 29 billion tonnes in 2008, leading to an increase of 3.5 degrees Celsius in world temperature in the long term,” the agency added.

The agency’s default set of assumptions, called the “New Policies Scenario,” includes government commitments to tackling climate change, such as the Copenhagen Accord.

The IEA also outlined another case, the “450 Scenario,” which details the measures that would be necessary to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million, and to limit the increase in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius.

These measures will require additional spending of US$11.6 trillion (R80 trillion), compared with the “New Policies” scenario through 2030, the IEA said. The costs are about US$1 trillion (R6.9 trillion) more than the agency had estimated last year, to compensate for the shortcomings of existing global climate change policies.