Amplification of future energy demand growth due to climate change

B. J. van Ruijven, E. De Cian, and I. Sue Wing

Nature Communications (24 June 2019)

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-10399-3

Future energy demand is likely to increase due to climate change, but the magnitude depends on many interacting sources of uncertainty. We combine econometrically estimated responses of energy use to income, hot and cold days with future projections of spatial population and national income under five socioeconomic scenarios and temperature increases around 2050 for two emission scenarios simulated by 21 Earth System Models (ESMs). Here we show that, across 210 realizations of socioeconomic and climate scenarios, vigorous (moderate) warming increases global climate-exposed energy demand before adaptation around 2050 by 25-58% (11-27%), on top of a factor 1.7-2.8 increase above present-day due to socioeconomic developments. We find broad agreement among ESMs that energy demand rises by more than 25% in the tropics and southern regions of the USA, Europe and China. Socioeconomic scenarios vary widely in the number of people in low-income countries exposed to increases in energy demand.

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