Global greenhouse gas emissions could rise 50% by 2050 without more ambitious climate policies, as fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) says in a new report.
Unless the global energy mix changes, fossil fuels will supply about 85% of energy demand in 2050, implying a 50% increase in greenhouse gas emissions and worsening urban air pollution,” the OECD said in its environment outlook to 2050.
The global economy in 2050 will be four times larger than today and the world will use around 80% more energy but the global energy mix is not predicted to be very different from that of today.
Fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas will make up 85% of energy sources while renewables, including biofuels, are forecast to make up 10% and nuclear the rest.
Due to such dependence on fossils, carbon dioxide emissions from energy use are expected to grow by 70%, the OECD said, which will help drive up the global average temperature by 3 to 6 degrees Celsius by 2100 – exceeding the internationally agreed warming target of within 2 degrees.
In terms of what is required in the energy sector – Europe would say total decarbonisation by 2050 – just switching from coal to gas, that probably is not going to be achieved.
So how to deal with those emissions in the medium term coming from a still heavy form of fossil fuel, even if it is a gas based economy?
The answer is to prevent the worst effects of global warming, international climate action should start in 2013, a global carbon market should be set up, the energy sector should be transformed to low carbon, and all low-cost advanced technologies should be explored such as biomass energy and carbon capture.
Furthermore the world is on track for around four degrees Celsius of global warming under current carbon emissions trends, a trajectory that some scientists say risks a planetary mass extinction event.