The report also underlines that the single largest energy demand growth story of recent decades is near its end: China’s coal use reaches a plateau at close to today’s levels, as its economy rebalances and overall energy demand growth slows, before declining. India – the subject of an in-depth focus in WEO-2015 – moves to centre stage in global energy, with high levels of economic growth, a large (and growing) population and low (but increasing) levels of energy use per capita all pushing energy demand to two-and-a-half-times current levels.
Overall, world energy demand grows by nearly one-third between 2013 and 2040 in the central scenario of WEO-2015, with the net growth driven entirely by developing countries. The links between global economic growth, energy demand and energy-related emissions weaken: some markets (such as China) undergo structural change in their economies and others reach a saturation point in demand for energy services. All adopt more energy efficient technologies, although a prolonged period of lower oil prices could undercut this crucial pillar of the energy transition; diminished incentives and longer payback periods mean that 15 per cent of the energy savings are lost in a low oil price scenario. Lower prices alone would not have a large impact on the deployment of renewables, but only if policymakers remain steadfast in providing the necessary market rules, policies and subsidies.