The job of the department I head – Corporate Strategic Planning – is to forecast an answer to that question as accurately as we can. After all, our company makes long-term, multi-billion dollar investment decisions and needs to have as clear an understanding as possible of what the future may hold.
On Friday, we published ExxonMobil’s 2017 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040, which outlines our educated estimates about global energy supply and demand and other economic trends.
The Outlook isn’t just for internal use. We also make it public to help policymakers and other interested parties understand our view of the global demand for energy, how energy is being used, and the trends shaping markets in the years ahead.
Over the next several decades, we see seven key themes that will shape our energy landscape:
- Energy will underpin economic growth.
- Developing countries will lead the way for energy demand.
- The global energy mix will continue to evolve; nuclear and renewables in particular will grow strongly, approaching a 25 percent share of the world’s energy in 2040.
- Natural gas will lead the growth in global energy demand.
- Oil will continue to play a leading role, with demand driven by fuel for transportation and feedstock for petrochemicals.
- Energy-related CO2 emissions will peak during the 2030s and then begin to decline even as global GDP grows.
- Technological advances will enable improved efficiency, slow energy demand growth, and open up new supplies of energy. Technology will help moderate the carbon intensity of energy use, which will help lower the carbon intensity of the world economy by 45 percent by 2040.
Behind these points are stories about the evolution of markets, along with a wealth of data. I invite you to check out our Energy Outlook website, which contains the facts and figures that support our estimates.
The world will see some significant changes over the next quarter century in how and where people live, work, and move around.
The future we expect to see in 2040 will be one of greater prosperity for more people, increased economic growth, and more robust international trade, as well as vastly improved efficiency and falling emissions.
Underpinning it all will be the global energy industry of which ExxonMobil is proud to be a part.
William Colton is ExxonMobil’s vice president for corporate strategic planning. In the coming weeks he and his colleagues will highlight different features from ExxonMobil’s 2017 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040.