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Energy transition?

Hydrocarbon use is still in increasing in absolute terms.

The Paris Agreement set a target of keeping global warming well below 2°C , preferably limited to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. There are many possible ways to reach this target, and the solution will clearly require a combination of different approaches. 'There is no single storyline about the future' as the IEA wrote in the World Energy Outlook 2020.

However, even if there are many possible ways forward, and hopes for the development of new technologies such as large scale carbon capture and storage, reducing energy production from hydrocarbons is necessarily a key component.

Much of the new global energy production capacity is based on renewable energy technologies, demonstrating both the political commitment and economics of the approach. As a result, energy produced from hydrocarbons is reducing as a percentage of overall energy production. Whilst this is a positive development, it masks the fact that the use of hydrocarbons for energy production is still increasing. The plot below, based on data from, shows that at no time have we reduced our dependence upon energy produced from hydrocarbons - the challenge now, to reduce our absolute use of hydrocarbons, is unprecedented in our history.

Note: this plot will be updated when more recent data is available, and the impact of the pandemic can then be assessed.


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