Published October 6, 2004 12:00 AM

New Study Examines Business Impacts of Energy and Climate Choices

SYDNEY — Energy demand could double or triple by 2050, as population rises and developing countries expand their economies and overcome poverty, according to a new study.

The study, by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), ponders whether change in technologies and policy frameworks could help companies move toward sustainable energy systems and which energy options can help reshape our energy future.

"Facts and Trends to 2050: Energy and Climate Change," released recently at the World Energy Congress in Sydney, Australia, is based on the practical experiences of a cross-section of industry leaders. The report explores challenges in achieving a sustainable energy situation globally and future energy options and infrastructures. Drawing from existing data, the work is meant to stimulate forward thinking and lead to concrete actions by companies.

“Starting the process now is a matter of urgency and business has a key role to play,” said WBCSD President Björn Stigson at the press briefing. "Change in energy supply and demand can help shift to a truly sustainable energy path. But change takes time, and laying the foundations for the future should not be delayed."

Also speaking at the event, Anne Lauvergeon, chairman of the executive board AREVA and a co-chair of the WBCSD’s Energy and Climate program, said, “2050 may seem far off, but it is not mere prospective. In 2050 the next generation, our children, will be driving the planet.”


She went on to explain that the pace of change in the energy cycle is slow. “It is like a super-tanker,” she said. “It takes time to change direction, and you must anticipate. If you do not start on time, you cannot recover the situation, and the consequences may spiral out of control.”

President Stigson said, “A reduction in growth is not an acceptable path to a lower carbon world. We need a decoupling of the current direct link between standards of living and energy consumption.“

Facts and Trends states that if the developing world is to aspire to the levels enjoyed in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, improved efficiency, diversity, and technological development in our energy systems will be the keys to achieving this without escalating emissions unsustainably. And there are already signals of change, such as an increased use of gas, the introduction of advanced forms of renewable energy, and high-efficiency vehicles offered to the consumer.

Stigson concluded by saying that Facts and Trends was meant to serve as a platform to engage a broad set of stakeholders in a discussion around energy and climate change dilemmas and options.

“Our intent was to explore the issues without being dictatorial about the solutions," he said. "Here we lay out the facts in terms that everyone can relate to, and one of our key messages is that we have today the means to act.“


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