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2018 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040

Published: 16/02/2018
Each year, ExxonMobil analyzes and updates its long-term view on energy supply and demand. Why is this important? Simply because energy is fundamental to modern life.

The Outlook for Energy is ExxonMobil’s view of energy demand and supply through 2040. We use the Outlook to help inform our long-term strategies and investments.

A significant energy transition is underway, and many factors will shape the world’s energy future. These include government ambitions and policies that seek to promote prosperity while also addressing the risks of climate change. The recent Paris Agreement1 on climate change provided significant insights on governments’ intentions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the inclusion in the agreement of nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Policies adopted to support NDCs will likely affect supply and use of energy across society.

To support economic progress and make substantial progress on the climate goals identified in the Paris Agreement, well-designed and transparent policy approaches that carefully weigh costs and benefits are needed. Such policies are likely to help manage the risks of climate change while also enabling societies to pursue other high-priority goals – including clean air and water, access to reliable, affordable energy and economic progress for all people.

Technology will also be vital to improve living standards while addressing climate risks. Advances continue to reshape the energy playing field. Many technologies not prevalent five to 10 years ago have a more significant role today, and their impacts will continue to expand. Examples include wind and solar power, unconventional oil and gas development, and electric cars. Meeting the dual challenge of mitigating the risks of climate change while boosting standards of living will require additional technology advances.

While policies and technologies help shape living standards and the evolution of energy, they also disrupt the status quo and can cause uncertainty and unexpected consequences. Accordingly, as part of the Outlook development process, we develop and use sensitivities to help our understanding of possible energy outcomes.

This year’s Outlook includes several sensitivities on specific areas of interest to provide greater perspective on how changes to our base Outlook assumptions could affect the energy landscape.

This year’s Outlook also includes a new section, “Pursuing a 2oC Pathway.” This section utilizes work coordinated by the Energy Modeling Forum at Stanford University.2 It provides a view of potential pathways toward a 2oC climate goal, and the implications such pathways might have in terms of global energy intensity, carbon intensity of the world’s energy mix and global demand for various energy sources. The section concludes with a discussion of the need to pursue practical, cost-effective solutions to address multiple goals simultaneously. The Outlook anticipates significant changes through 2040 across the world to boost living standards, reshape the use of energy, broaden access to abundant energy supplies, and accelerate decarbonization of the world’s energy system to address the risk of climate change.

A role for everyone

Seven billion people shape the world’s energy system and have a direct impact on the fundamental drivers of energy demand. Energy impacts the economy as well as security and environmental goals. Energy solutions can vary over time and circumstances. Think about how access to energy affects your own life, and how that translates to billions of other people around the world. Compare your own conclusions on the energy future with those in the Outlook.

Energy is fundamental to modern life, and as the world’s population approaches 9 billion people in 2040, we are challenged to improve living standards everywhere. We expect that progress will be powered by human ingenuity and the energy that helps make better lives possible.

 

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