EIA: China and India rule our energy world

at 05:37 PM ET, 09/20/2011

How many more graphs do we really need to remind us that China and India are growing at a ridiculous, teeth-rattling pace? One more, at least. On Monday, the Energy Information Administration released its International Energy Outlook 2011 report. The chart on the right shows the projections for global energy consumption from 1990 to 2035. Notice that energy use in the OECD countries — North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia — stays nearly flat during that period. It’s the rest of the world, particularly China and India, that’s driving demand for energy higher and higher.

All told, the EIA projects, global energy demand will grow 53 percent from 2008 to 2035, and, assuming there’s not some radical shift in policy or a strict new climate treaty, most of that energy will come from fossil fuels. The EIA expects natural-gas production in the United States and Canada to zoom upward in the next few decades. China, Russia, and India will likely construct a bunch of new nuclear plants. Renewables, the report observes, will grow at a breakneck pace, but still provide a scant 15 percent of the world’s energy by 2035. That means coal and oil will still dominate.

Assuming that all transpires, greenhouse-gas emissions will skyrocket — the EIA projects a 43 percent rise by 2035. That, too, will be largely fueled by China and India’s voracious demand for coal. By 2035, developing countries will emit more than twice as much carbon pollution, all told, as their developed counterparts. (Per capita emissions are a different story: the carbon footprint of the average person in a non-OECD country will still be less than half that of the average OECDer.) You don’t need to look much further than this to see why so many climate scientists are nervous.

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