The scientific consensus on man-made climate change is now firmly established. It is explained in the recently released report of the Scientific Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which has “very high confidence” that the observed warming trend around the globe is attributable to the net effect of human activities since 1750.1 In IPCC terms, this means there is at least a 90 percent chance that global warming is human induced. In fact, the IPCC offers no other scenario that could account for the magnitude of change.
The great majority of the impacts expected from climate change are due to the use of fossil fuels, which account for 80 percent of energy demand worldwide and are projected to remain the largest source of primary energy globally.2 The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that oil demand will grow by almost 40 percent by 2030 and gas demand will more than double in the same period.3
In order to produce electricity to run our homes, businesses, factories, and industrial processes, global electricity generation is projected to double from 17,408 terawatt hours (TWh) to 33,750 TWh in 2030.4 Most of that demand increase stems from developing countries, in particular China and India as they industrialize. However, continued growth is expected in the OECD and the U.S. with electricity demand in the U.S. projected to increase 40 percent by 2030.