Energy Policy Scenarios to 2050
7.1. Setting Realistic Global Targets
This report shows there is much to be done to achieve the goals of energy Accessibility, Availability, and Acceptability in a timely and cost-efficient manner. All countries and regions need to produce and use energy more efficiently throughout the value chain, keep all energy options open, and improve public awareness and the timely acceptance of clean and affordable energy technologies. The need for large and prudent investments in the energy supply infrastructure is acute.
Setting targets is important so that policies can be defined and progress measured. The study group believes that the following targets are achievable, assuming the political will exists in governments and industry to work closely together on the policies, regulations and investments required to move forward.
At present, almost two billion people do not have access to commercial forms of energy and another billion have only periodic unreliable access. If about half of the world's population continues in this condition, the world as a whole faces a significant threat to stability and the quality of life everywhere. Based on input from the study participants, the following targets can be set with some confidence:
By 2035, the number of people without access to modern energy services can be halved from two to one billion. In its Millennium Statement WEC has already defined the minimum level of access for all households in the world as the electricity equivalent of 500 kWh per person per year.
By 2050, this number can be halved again to 500 million.
To achieve this will take an unprecedented level of international cooperation and engagement by governments and industry, as well as introducing new paradigms for the transfer of advanced technology from OECD countries to the poorest, including incentives for the investment of capital.
In recent years, there have been significant disturbances in getting energy resources from where they are plentiful to where they are needed and converting them to sustainable stationary, electricity, and transport services. Sustainable means linking the availability targets of governments and industry with the accessibility and acceptability targets set out here. Most of the disturbances have been related to physical infrastructure inadequacies (e.g., shipping, pipes, terminals, etc.) resulting from insufficient investment (North America, Western Europe, Latin America), although some have occurred because of commercial, regulatory, political, or market failures (California, Ukraine, Belarus).
The investment needs of the energy sector are huge, estimated by the IEA to be $20 trillion by 2030 alone. One of the keys to adequate energy production and infrastructure investment is setting the rules of energy investment, transmission and trade. Apart from the North America Free Trade Agreement and the Energy Charter Treaty, there is no global agreement on such rules. The World Trade Organisation should be called on to prepare an energy chapter for the round of trade negotiations beyond Doha that covers all aspects of energy development including the value to be placed on carbon by signatories. Countering nationalistic, parochial, or corrupt energy policy and practice is a key element in energy availability.
By 2035, capable and reliable physical and commercial systems supplying energy in North America, Europe, and some of Asia can be achieved. Performance levels of both the physical and the commercial systems should be above 99% (less than 2 hours per week without supply). The reliability of supplies to certain high technology commercial enterprises must be at least 99.999% or greater for them to be competitive. By 2050, this condition can be extended to most of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
To achieve this requires a deep commitment by industry to cooperate and integrate on a global scale. At the same time, governments play a crucial role in making certain that the conditions for investment are present and that the finance community can foresee reasonable returns.
Environmental concerns are among the most important factors shaping the future of the energy industry around the world. While the study group believes it will be very difficult and is not optimistic that it will happen (Table 7-1), the following targets are achievable but necessitate substantial engagement of governments and international cooperation and integration on a broad and unprecedented scale. These targets can form the basis of discussions on a post-Kyoto agreement:
Slow the rate of emissions growth from energy use significantly by 2020, in spite of a significant increase in overall energy consumption. This can be achieved principally by setting a value for carbon globally which is high enough to drive prices and affect behaviour but low enough to be compatible with strong economic growth in all regions of the world.
Building on this foundation, by 2035, stabilise CO2 emissions and initiate the process of absolute carbon emission reductions by decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.
Over the succeeding decades to 2050, steadily reduce CO2 emissions without compromising the universal availability of commercial energy services. Ever cleaner energy resources, zero-emissions technologies coupled with advanced energy storage technologies, an increasingly robust portfolio of advanced power generation and transportation technologies can facilitate further carbon reductions, leading to a truly low carbon world.
The transportation end-use sector is perhaps the most vexing of all energy sectors if energy-related emissions are to be stabilised and then reduced. Bold and unconventional steps are called for. Governments, working with industry, must identify the issues, available technologies, research and development needs, standards, and the paths forward - with the goals of ensuring security of energy for transportation and dealing with greenhouse gas emissions.
Not to be overlooked are local and regional emissions and other environmental impacts (e.g., water and agricultural land use). WEC should work with the United Nations and other NGOs to ensure its energy targets take into account the water, health, agriculture, and biodiversity concerns, which have been addressed in the UN Millennium goals.
Without public awareness of the importance of energy - its generation, distribution, and supply, and the issues of security, access, and environmental effects surrounding energy - people will not be able to decide which course to follow. Strong and coordinated steps are needed to educate all people in the world about energy, from basic principles to explanations of the critical decisions that must be made by society. Useful information must be disseminated clearly and uniformly to the public at large by governments and industry in a timely and effective way.