Outlook for Energy

The Outlook for Energy is ExxonMobil’s latest view of energy demand and supply through 2050. For many years the Outlook for Energy has helped inform ExxonMobil’s long-term business strategies, investment plans, and research programs.

Key takeaways of 2050 projections

Energy and human development are inextricably linked

Access to affordable and reliable energy has brought enormous progress, enabling people to live longer, healthier lives. Yet billions still do not have reliable access to clean cooking fuel or electricity. As growing populations gain access to energy and increase their living standards, they will create the largest expansion of the global middle class in history. That means more demand for homes, transportation, electricity, consumer goods and the energy to power them.

Industrial sector represents 50% of energy end use

Today, the energy-intensive processes used to make basic goods and infrastructure like steel, cement, aluminum, glass and chemicals, generate emissions that are harder to abate. Growing use of electricity, natural gas, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sector growth.

Global energy-related emissions peak; more effort needed to achieve Paris Agreement goals

Energy-related CO2 emissions peak by 2030 before declining 13% to 2050, marking a significant improvement versus the 15% emissions growth over the past decade. However, the Outlook and other third-party reports, including the United Nations Environment Programme Emissions Gap report, suggest the world needs to further accelerate progress to achieve the Paris Agreement goals.  

Oil and natural gas play an important role over the coming decades in Lower 2°C pathways

The IPCC and IEA scenarios also indicate a broad range of potential outcomes for the future energy mix, and show that no single energy source or technology solution is sufficient to achieve a Lower 2°C pathway. All lower-emission sources play important roles, and the scenarios include unprecedented deployment of bioenergy, solar, wind, carbon capture and storage, and hydrogen. Oil and natural gas also remain a significant part of the energy mix for decades in these scenarios, reinforcing the need for continued investment.

Energy demand grows 15%

The Outlook projects efficiency gains that reduce energy use per capita in developed countries, whereas developing nations increase energy per capita in pursuit of improved living standards. This increased demand in developing countries, which represent over 80% of global population, leads to a 15% higher estimate of global energy demand in 2050 compared to 2019.

Transportation energy demand is expected to grow by more than 20%

While personal vehicle energy demand peaks and declines by 2025 due to growing electrification and fuel efficiency, commercial transportation offsets that energy demand reduction as economic activity further increases and more goods and infrastructure are needed due to increased personal buying power.

Reaching a Lower 2°C pathway requires innovative solutions and supportive policies

The IPCC Lower 2°C and the IEA Net Zero Emissions by 2050 scenarios provide potential pathways for society to achieve the Paris Agreement goals. They highlight the importance of innovation to improve the cost and performance of lower-carbon alternatives, especially for the harder-to-decarbonize sectors like commercial transportation and industry. As some of these technologies are still in prototype or early development, targeted policy support will be crucial to support early deployment.
  • Global energy fundamentals

    Energy is essential for human society’s progress. Economic expansion and improving access to energy enable longer, more productive lives for the growing global population.

  • Energy demand: Three drivers

    Policy. Technology. Consumer preferences. All three impact how the world uses energy. Each driver influences the other and changes over time, with variances by region and political climate.

  • Energy supply

    Energy – in all its forms – enables growth and prosperity. As economies grow, as technology advances, as consumers become more environmentally aware, and as policies adapt, global energy demand will evolve to meet changing needs.

  • Emissions

    Providing reliable, affordable energy to support prosperity and enhance living standards is coupled with the need to do so in ways that reduce impacts on the environment, including the risks of climate change.

  • Advancing Climate Solutions - 2022 Progress Report

    The move to a lower-emission future requires multiple solutions that can be implemented at scale to address some of the highest-emitting sectors of the economy. This is where we are focused, leveraging our experience and long history of meeting vast complex challenges.

Download the reports

2021 Outlook for Energy: data pages

Relevant data pertaining to 2021 Outlook for Energy report

XLSX / 0.09 MB

2021 Outlook for Energy: glossary

Glossary of terms for the 2021 Outlook for Energy report.

PDF / 0.05 MB

How we develop our Outlook

Monitoring policy and technology trends

The Company monitors changes in technology, such as solar panels getting cheaper, batteries improving, as well as policy developments like the EU’s tailpipe emissions regulations and China’s coming 14th five-year plan.


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