With President Obama’s rejection (for now) of the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline fresh in everyone’s mind—and conservatives and the oil industry already hammering him, even as greenssing his praises—you can be sure that energy issues will play a bigger role than usual in the 2012 election. So it’s worth taking a step back and figuring out where we are globally on energy. What’s rising, what’s falling—and how much oil, gas, coal and renewables will we need and use in the decades to come?
Thankfully, our friends at BP have just released their annual Energy Outlook, a compendium of current global energy stats and a prediction over how that picture will change over the next 20 years. A couple of caveats: one, BP is, of course, primarily an oil and gas company, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see their expectations of future energy use skewed towards fossil fuels, while possibly undercutting renewables and efficiency. Second, every attempt to look very far into the future of energy is by its nature a doomed enterprise. Technologies change, economies rise and fall and disasters happen. Any attempt to pinpoint how we’ll be using energy two decades into the future is—if we’re lucky—an educated guess.
With that out of the way—what does BP’s vision of the energy future look like?