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Posted Wed Mar 23 2011: from
A global energy war looms
HSBC has calculated what would happen to energy consumption by 2050 given plausible forecasts for economic growth and assuming no constraint on resources, or that humans carry on using energy in the "taken for granted" way they do at the moment. As you can see, demand in China, India and other emerging markets soars, but there is also quite considerable growth from advanced economies too. The big picture is that with an additional one billion cars on the road, demand for oil would grow 110pc to more than 190 million barrels per day. Total demand for energy would rise by a similar order of magnitude, doubling the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to more than three and a half times the amount climate change scientists think would keep temperatures at safe levels. It scarcely needs saying that regardless of the environmental consequences, energy industries would struggle to cope, and more likely would find it impossible. We may or may not already be perilously close to peak oil - or maximum productive capacity - but nobody believes the industry could produce double what it does at the moment, however clever it becomes in tapping previously uncommercial or inaccessible reserves. If something can't happen, then it won't, so is all that forecast growth in the developing world just a question of wishful thinking that will soon be dashed by the constraints of finite energy? Not necessarily, says HSBC's economics team. The world can still accommodate high growth, but only if there is a collective change in behaviour, including much greater energy efficiency, a big change in the energy mix, and urgent development of carbon capture technologies so as to limit the damage of fossil fuel usage.
[Read more stories about: peak oil, low-energy future, efficiency increase, carbon emissions]

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