UPDATED 1 Sept: The EI library in London is temporarily closed to the public, as a precautionary measure in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The Knowledge Service will still be answering email queries via email , or via live chats during working hours (09:15-17:00 GMT). Our e-library is always open for members here: eLibrary , for full-text access to over 200 e-books and millions of articles. Thank you for your patience.
New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Global visions: International Energy Week debates the key factors impacting the energy transition


10 min read

3 men and 1 woman sitting and talking on stage as part of conference panel Photo: Oliver Dixon Photography/Energy Institute
Left to right: Christof Rühl, Columbia University; Chris Weafer of Macro-Advisory; Spencer Dale of BP; and Mallika Ishwaran of Shell. Obscured: Ian Jones AMEI, Head of Knowledge, Insights and Research, Energy Institute

Photo: Oliver Dixon Photography/Energy Institute

With more than 30 sessions on energy scenarios, energy finance, making a just transition, technological innovation and electrification, International Energy Week 2024 covered lots of ground. One session in particular encompassed the widest possible scope, addressing the global energy situation and outlook. New Energy World Senior Editor Will Dalrymple reports.

Setting the scene, moderator Christof Rühl, Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Global Energy Policy Centre, looked at energy outlooks a few decades ago. The outlooks highlighted that the global energy supply system is huge and growing, though disruptive change and discretionary spending is extremely rare. There was never an expectation that greenhouse gas emissions could be solved easily or mitigated.


Starting in the 1990s, another narrative emerged that would dominate the energy transition. It goes like this: science tells us that there’s a problem with global warming; and the energy sector is the biggest contributor, through burning of fossil fuels; but we can swap them out and replace them with renewables. If we are tenacious enough, we can solve this problem. In reaction to that narrative, politicians and business leapt ahead with a proliferation of net zero targets. Now we have thousands of companies and tens of countries with net zero targets between 2030–2050. In the last few years, there has been a bit of backpedalling. Maybe it’s not so easy to decarbonise, maybe we need to rely on offsets, but there is no market for offsets yet, so a gap is opening between perception and reality.


Taking up that latter point, the Energy Institute’s Head of Knowledge, Insights and Research Ian Jones pointed out that the Statistical Review of World Energy indicates that the world’s energy transition is not on track. Global energy demand is increasing at 2% per year over the past two decades, while 2007 was the first time that demand from non-OECD countries exceeded demand of OECD countries. This trend has persisted ever since.


This content is for EI members only.
or join us as an EI Member to read all our Feature articles and receive exclusive EI perks from as little as £6 a month.