Exxon Mobil Corp. sees the world failing to reduce emissions fast enough to limit global warming to 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial norms by 2050 due to soaring economic growth, particularly in developing countries.
(Bloomberg) — Exxon Mobil Corp. sees the world failing to reduce emissions fast enough to limit global warming to 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial norms by 2050 due to soaring economic growth, particularly in developing countries.
Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will be 25 billion metric tons by 2050, more than twice the 11 billion tons needed to meet the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2-degree scenario, Exxon said Monday in its annual Energy Outlook. While that represents a drop of more than 25% from the 34 billion ton peak expected this decade, it’s a long way from what’s required to meet the goals of the 2016 Paris Agreement.
By 2050, there will be 2 billion more people on the planet, an increase of 25%, and rising living standards will fuel consumption for all types of energy, Exxon said. Global gross domestic product per capita, a measure of purchasing power, is expected to rise 85% by 2050, increasing demand for manufacturing, commercial transportation and other industrial activities, especially in Asia. Higher fuel efficiency will cause energy use to decline in the developed world.
“The world’s ability to reduce these emissions by 25%, even as the global economy grows by more than 100%, is a testament to the significant progress expected to be made,” Exxon said. “Even so, more is needed to hit the emission-reduction levels required to keep global temperature increases below 2C.”
Oil use will “decline significantly” in personal transportation, but remain “essential” for shipping, long-haul trucking and aviation, demand for which is expected to rise, Exxon said. If every new car sold in 2035 was electric, oil consumption in 2050 would be 85 million barrels per day — 17% less than today — and about the same as 2010 levels.
Exxon frames its outlook as a realistic “projection” rather than other scenarios that “work backward from a hypothetical outcome to identify the factors needed to achieve that outcome,” the company said. While such an approach may be self-serving for an enterprise that has committed its future to oil and gas, it’s also a reality check and a warning that governments and industry need to accelerate emissions reduction if the world is to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Read More: Exxon Accurately Forecast Global Warming for Decades, Study Says
Exxon’s climate studies have proved to be pinpoint accurate in the past. A review of the company’s projections from 1977 through 2014 by academics at the University of Miami, including Geoffrey Supran, found that Exxon scientists correctly forecast the rise in global temperatures due to CO2 emissions, with one 1985 study boasting an accuracy rating of 99%.
Supran criticized Exxon for publicizing the uncertainties associated with climate science for decades to protect its fossil fuel business, a finding that Exxon has consistently rejected. Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods told Congress in 2021 that the company has long acknowledged the risks of climate change and that its publicity materials were in line with the science at the time.
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