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Energy for a Shared Development Agenda: Global Scenarios and Governance Implications

SEI Report

Author(s): Nilsson, M. ; Heaps, C. ; Persson, Å; Carson, M.; Pachauri, S.; Kok, M.; Olsson, M.; Rehman, I.; Schaeffer, R.; Wood, D.; van Vuuren, D.; Riahi, K.; Americano, B.; Mulugetta; Y.
Year: 2012

This report combines a global assessment of energy scenarios up to 2050, case studies of energy access and low-carbon efforts around the world, and a review of the technological shifts, investments, policies and governance structures needed to bring energy to all.

The report explores two alternate scenarios: basic energy access (BEA), to meet household needs for lighting, heat and cooking, and shared development agenda (SDA), which examines the implications for energy systems if all nations achieve per capita annual incomes of at least $10,000 (at 2005 purchasing power parity rates).

Developing nations are already expanding energy access on their own, and the report shows that if current trends continue, global energy demand would rise from 365 exajoules (EJ) in 2010 to 775 EJ by 2050, with South Asia as the biggest consumer. Global CO2 emissions would rise to 64% above 1990 levels by 2020 and to 152% above 1990 levels by 2050, making it near-certain that temperatures will increase by more than 2°C.

In the BEA scenario, energy demand dramatically decreases due to concerted efforts to improve energy efficiency and sharply reduce the energy intensity of economies. Primary energy use continues to rise until 2020, peaking at 575 EJ but declining to 441 EJ by 2050. Global CO2 emissions increase by 38% in 2020 relative to 1990, but by 2050 decrease by 92% on 1990 levels.

In the SDA scenario, energy demand rises sharply across much of Africa, and to a lesser extent, in South Asia. Yet global energy demand is only 33.5 EJ (11%) higher in 2050 than in the Basic Energy Scenario, partly due to sharper reductions in U.S. and Canadian energy use, but with no major changes elsewhere. Carbon emissions are virtually the same as under BEA.

The authors' verdict: Sustainable energy access for all is attainable, but only if nations work together to transform global energy systems.

The first step, they argue, is to agree on a shared development agenda across the global North and South. This agenda must then be supported by strong global and national-level energy governance and strong policies to drive public- and private-sector investment.

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