A SUV drives Nov. 13 in Paris. The world’s thirst for oil will continue to grow until the 2030s, with climate-damaging emissions climbing until at least 2040 — and consumers’ insatiable appetite for SUVs is a big reason why. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

A SUV drives Nov. 13 in Paris. The world’s thirst for oil will continue to grow until the 2030s, with climate-damaging emissions climbing until at least 2040 — and consumers’ insatiable appetite for SUVs is a big reason why. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

World thirst for oil keeps growing, with SUVs a key culprit

Other factors: Rising demand for plastic, increased plane travel and population growth in Asia and Africa.

By Angela Charlton / Associated Press

PARIS — The world’s thirst for oil will continue to grow until the 2030s, with climate-damaging emissions climbing until at least 2040 — and consumers’ insatiable appetite for SUVs is a big reason why.

Mounting demand for plastic is another factor. So is increasing plane travel. And the upcoming population boom in cities across Africa and Asia.

All this is according to an important global industry forecast released Wednesday by the International Energy Agency that is used as guidance by oil companies and governments. This year, amid growing pressure from young activists like Greta Thunberg and others for tougher action on emissions, the IEA’s World Energy Outlook took a stronger-than-usual stand on climate change.

It celebrates a growing boom in solar and wind power, and urges governments to work together on changing the way we fuel our lives. And it singles out gas-guzzling SUVs for criticism.

Growing demand for SUVs in the U.S, China, Europe and elsewhere could negate all the environmental benefits of the increased use of electric cars, the report says. Because of their size, SUVs are harder to electrify than smaller vehicles.

SUVs “were the second biggest reason for global emissions growth in last 10 years, after the power sector and more than all the industrial sectors put together,” IEA director Fatih Birol told reporters in Paris on Wednesday.

Energy-intensive SUVs and pickup trucks account for about two-thirds of car sales in the U.S. and only about a third in the EU, though they are steadily growing in demand in Europe too, according to industry reports. Worldwide, about 42% of cars sold last year were SUVs, Birol said.

The World Energy Outlook, which focuses on forecasting energy needs over the next 20 years, is increasingly important to governments because of its relevance to climate policy.

Environmental advocates say the IEA still isn’t doing enough to encourage renewable energy. Oil Change International notably criticized the IEA’s “over-reliance” on natural gas as a replacement for coal, saying that will lead to “climate chaos” because gas too contributes to emissions.

As flooding in Venice hit the second-highest level ever this week, inundating St. Mark’s Cathedral and grounding gondolas, the city’s mayor blamed climate change. Scientists say it’s difficult to pin a single such event on climate change, but that increasingly extreme weather events worldwide are linked to human-caused emissions.

The IEA said that almost 20% of the growth in last year’s global energy use was “due to hotter summers pushing up demand for cooling and cold snaps leading to higher heating needs.”

Based on current emissions promises by governments, the IEA forecast global oil demand of 106.4 million barrels a day in 2040, up from 96.9 million last year. Global oil demand is due to slow in the 2030s, and coal use to shrink slightly.

Emissions will continue to rise, if more slowly than today, and won’t peak before 2040.

The U.S. is central to whatever happens next. U.S. consumers and businesses were a leading source of growing oil demand last year, the IEA says. Also, the U.S. will account for 85% of the increase in global oil production by 2030, thanks to the shale boom.

Asked about President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the 2015 Paris climate accord, Birol said: “as a global issue, it’s important to have concerted efforts to address climate change.”

The report lays out a more ambitious forecast if governments are to meet the goals in the 2015 U.N. climate accord.

That would require a big boost in wind and solar power, the IEA says, and a new push for energy efficiency, which has slowed in recent years.

The more ambitious scenario would also require work on new coal plants in Asia to capture their emissions, or closing them early.

All that would lead to a big drop in oil demand — with repercussions for oil-producing countries that depend heavily on hydrocarbon income.

The report came as activist Greta Thunberg announced she will return to Europe soon from North America on a catamaran that leaves nearly no carbon footprint, part of effort to call global attention to individuals’ impact on climate change.

While the IEA said such movements and individual decisions by companies and investors “can make a major difference,” it insisted that “Governments must take the lead… the greatest capacity to shape our energy destiny lies with governments.”

Talk to us

More in Nation-World

Supreme Court: LGBT people protected from job discrimination

Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas dissented.

Boeing, suppliers plunge on stop-and-go 737 Max comeback

An uptick in Covid-19 cases in the U.S. has added to concerns that airlines face a prolonged recovery

Boeing goes another month without a single airliner order

Airlines are canceling thousands of flights while passengers remain too scared to fly.

Bellevue couple’s nightmare: Held in China, away from daughter

Chinese officials want the man’s father to return from the U.S. to face 20-year-old embezzling charges.

Airbus CEO warns workers it’s bleeding cash and needs cuts

Both Airbus and Boeing are preparing for job cuts as they gauge the depth of the downturn.

U.S. unsure it can meet deadline to disburse funds to tribes

The department hasn’t determined whether unique Alaska Native corporations are eligible for a share.

As people stay home, Earth turns wilder and cleaner

“There’s some silver lining for wildlife in what otherwise is a fairly catastrophic time for humans.”

Trump, Congress scramble to revive virus-hunting agency

In 2019 it was without a permanent leader, and in the Trump administration’s budget-slashing sights.

Virus casts a dark cloud over once-thriving home market

Shutdown orders have halted open houses, sellers are delaying listings and buyers are losing their jobs.

Sanders drops 2020 bid, leaving Biden as likely nominee

“While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability.”

Trump signs $2.2T stimulus after swift congressional votes

Both parties lined up behind the most colossal economic relief bill in the nation’s history.

Senate unanimously passes massive coronavirus aid plan

The 880-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history.