And as the technology to capture carbon from the burning fossil fuels reaches scale, and sources of clean energy grow, net carbon emissions could drop to zero by 2100.
Even so, it will be hard, if not impossible, to meet the goal set by the world’s governments of holding the average increase in global temperatures to 2 degrees centigrade.
Today in Washington, Royal Dutch Shell’s chief executive, Peter Voser, and Jeremy Bentham, the head of Shell’s scenarios team, unveiled a pair of “New Lens” scenarios, dubbed “oceans” and “mountains,” and available in much greater detail here. In essence (and it’s more complicated this), the “mountains” scenario envisions a strong role for government and coordinated global policy, while the “oceans” scenario sees dispersed power, greater volatility, a stronger role for markets and rapid economic growth. Shell has been generating scenarios for about 40 years, to help guide the company’s long-term planning as well as influence policy makers.
Underlying both scenarios, though, are assumptions about the world’s increasing population and economic growth that together will drive demand for energy by about 80% by 2050. That rising demand is all but unavoidable, Bentham said, even assuming strong policies to promote efficiency or high energy prices that discourage consumption.
Meeting that demand for energy, while reducing carbon emissions dramatically, will be extremely difficult, to say the least, the Shell executives said. [click to continue…]