IEA World Energy Outlook 2017 Introduces Sustainable Development Scenario
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The 2017 World Energy Outlook introduces a Sustainable Development Scenario describing an integrated path for achieving the SDGs most closely linked to energy.

According to the Scenario, universal access to energy can be achieved by 2030, while halving energy-related CO2 emissions and premature deaths from air pollution by 2040.

The Outlook also predicts four shifts in the international energy system including a growing electrification of energy systems fueled by rapidly decreasing costs and and increasing deployment of clean energy technologies.

14 November 2017: The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) 2017 World Energy Outlook (WEO) forecasts four shifts that will shape the global energy system over the next 25 years, including expanding electrification, declining cost and rapid expansion of renewables, growing US oil production and cleaner and more diversified energy production in China.

WEO 2017 introduces a ‘Sustainable Development Scenario’ alongside its traditional scenarios, analyzing likely outcomes of different assumptions about energy policies and energy policy development. The new scenario lays out an integrated pathway for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) most closely related to energy, including: climate stability, relating to SDG 13 (climate action); universal energy access, contributing to target 7.1 of SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy); and improved air quality, addressing target 3.9 of SDG 3 (good health and well-being).

The Sustainable Development Scenario shows how universal access to energy can be achieved by 2030, while halving energy-related CO2 emissions and premature deaths from air pollution by 2040.

Unlike the WEO’s other scenarios, which track current and planned policies, the Sustainable Development Scenario starts from a set of desired outcomes, considers what will be necessary to achieve them, and provides a benchmark for measuring progress. Specifically, the Sustainable Development Scenario shows how universal access to energy can be achieved by 2030, while halving energy-related CO2 emissions and premature deaths from air pollution by 2040. In the Sustainable Development Scenario, the share of low-carbon sources in the energy mix doubles to 40% in 2040, energy efficiency is increased, demand for coal immediately declines, power generation is decarbonised, and electric vehicles are quickly mainstreamed.

Without implementation of the Sustainable Development Scenario, the IEA predicts that 675 million people will lack access to electricity in 2030, while 2.3 billion will continue to suffer from household air pollution emitted by cooking fuels. Annual premature deaths related to outdoor air pollution will rise from 3 million in 2017 to 4 million in 2040. Although GHG emissions growth is expected to almost flatten under the New Policies Scenario, the analysis suggests that this will not be enough to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The WEO also forecasts four shifts in the international energy system: decreasing costs and rapid deployment of clean energy technologies, expanding electrification of energy, a cleaner energy mix for China, and a resurgence of oil and gas production in the United States. The report predicts a 30% growth in global energy demand by 2040, met mostly by natural gas, renewables, and energy efficiency. Electricity demand, spurred by increased use of electrical appliances and the electrification of heating and transportation, is predicted to rise to 40% of final energy consumption by 2040, the same share of growth occupied by oil for the previous 25 years. As China’s economy transitions toward a services-based model, it is expected to increasingly rely on electricity, natural gas, and cleaner, high-efficiency, and digital technologies to slow demand growth from 8% per year between 2000-2012 to 1% per year by 2040. The WEO also expects that the US will become a net exporter of oil and natural gas by the late 2020’s spurred by cost-effective tight oil and shale gas production.

The WEO completes the 2017 series of IEA reports and events. The Agency hosted a High-Level Workshop on Energy and Development in March 2017 to help prepare this year’s Sustainable Development Scenario. The IEA’s Energy Access Outlook 2017, published earlier this year, describes the avenue to achieving universal energy access without increasing net GHG emissions. Also part of the WEO 2017 Series, the report titled, ‘Renewables 2017,’ provides a market analysis of renewable electricity, biofuels and heat, while the publication titled, ‘Energy Efficiency 2017,’ provides an update on international progress in the development and deployment of energy efficiency technologies and policies. [IEA WEO Press Release] [IEA WEO Overview] [Executive Summary] [IEA Commentary on the Sustainable Development Scenario]

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