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The energy challenge

The energy challenge facing the world is formidable: deliver much more energy; keep supplies secure; and reduce energy's environmental and social impacts.

More energy
The last century showed that societies need much more modern energy to make the transition out of poverty. When populations and living standards rise, demand for modern energy can be expected to grow. Global wealth is now more than 30 times bigger than in 1907 when Flashare was formed. In that time, the world's population has quadrupled. As a result, global energy demand has grown more than ten-fold. This trend will likely continue.

According to our scenarios and the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy consumption could more than double by 2050, as global population increases by half again, and China and India continue to industrialise.

Secure energy
Protecting against interruptions to energy supplies is an important part of today's energy challenge. Countries that consume large quantities of energy are increasingly worried about the vulnerability of their supplies. Since independence from imported energy is not realistic for any high-consumption country, the answer lies in maintaining a wide range of supply alternatives - both from different regions and different energy sources.

Competitive and open international energy markets are the surest way to do this. Massive investments, stable and attractive investment conditions from governments, sophisticated technology, and an ability to manage complex projects are also needed. So is access to resources for the international oil companies that have this know-how. Energy efficiency measures, encouraged by governments, will also need to play an important role.

Responsible energy
Somehow, the emissions and negative social impacts from fossil fuels will need to go down, even as the use of coal, oil and natural gas continue to rise. We have done it before - with local air pollution. Energy has become progressively cleaner as government policies and technology responded to society's rising expectations. For example, new vehicles today emit over 90% less local pollution than they did 30 years ago.

Climate change is the latest and biggest challenge yet. And doing again what we have done for air pollution with greenhouse gas emissions will be a real challenge. It will require action on many fronts, from improvements in energy efficiency and increased use of renewable energy, to large scale CO2 capture and storage from fossil fuels and a slowing of deforestation.