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More than half of the world's energy consumption is accounted for by a few regions in the world: China (23%), the United States (18%), Europe (14%), India (6%) and Russia (5%). In comparison, the African continent, which includes 63 countries and 17% of the world's population, consumes only 3% of the world's energy. China was at the same level of consumption as the African continent only 40 years ago. From 1980 to 2000, it doubled its consumption; between 2000 and 2019 it quadrupled it. If all countries that are currently low energy consumers follow China's example, global energy consumption will explode in the coming decades[1].

Today, the highest energy consumption per capita per year is that of a Qatari with 198,000 KWh, closely followed by an Icelander with 180,000 KWh[2]. This compares with an American (88,000 KWh), a European (31,000 KWh) or an African (4,000 kWh)[3]. An inhabitant of Chad consumes about 98 kWh per year, i.e. 2,000 times less than a Qatari, or 320 times less than a European!

In 2019, 13% of the world's population still lacks access to electricity. That is almost 1 billion people, twice the population of Europe (EU 27)[4] . In concrete terms, this means no electricity for lighting, for cooking, for young people to study at night. Without access to electricity, the chances of improving one's living conditions are extremely low. Unthinkable for a European, but this is everyday life for far too many people.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicts that global gross domestic product (GDP) will quadruple between 2011 and 2060, with a shift in production and consumption to emerging and developing economies[5] . It also predicts a near doubling of fossil fuel use and hence greenhouse gas emissions, if no significant innovation is introduced in the meantime. Global material use is also expected to more than double. The use of non-metallic minerals, such as sand, gravel and limestone (e.g. for making cement) will continue to grow. A huge amount of sand, iron and other materials will have to be extracted.

Without a radical change in our energy mix and our production and consumption patterns, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts will explode. While energy efficiency and "sobriety" are essential levers of action for rich countries (50% of global emissions are generated by 10% of the population, i.e. 750 million people[6] ), they are inappropriate for 90% of the world's population, which aspires to a better quality of life.

The energy and ecological transition is an unavoidable reality, but it must above all be egalitarian, with better distribution and management of energy and natural resources.

To achieve this transition, Western countries can tighten their belts, but this will not be enough to compensate for the increased needs. We, therefore, need innovation and investment now more than ever. A recent TED talk by Yuval Noah Harari[7] , supported by Sapienship[8], estimated that an annual investment of 2% of global GDP in clean technologies is needed to finance the energy transition. This may sound huge, but in 2008, to save the banking system, the US invested 3.5% of the global GDP. To fight the COVID-19 pandemic, countries invested a total of almost 14% of GDP. 2% of global GDP is also the number of subsidies given to oil companies every 3-4 years, or the amount of losses linked to food waste every two years. According to the same study, tax evasion amounts to 10% of global GDP.

So the problem is not financial, but political. And if it is political, it is up to each of us to make the right choices and not fight the wrong battle. It is also necessary to approach the transition with a global vision - a very large part of humanity has still not been able to benefit from the advantages of abundant and cheap energy - and local actions adapted to the specifications and needs of each region of the world.

To achieve this transition, all solutions are a priori good to take, but some are more effective than others. We will see this in the next few articles.

Do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

[1] All these figures, and more, are available on the excellent Our World in Data website. [2] Although Qatar and Iceland have roughly the same energy consumption, their energy mix is very different. Qatar's energy mix is mainly fossil fuels (74% gas and 26% oil), which are high CO2 emitters, whereas Iceland gets 80% of its energy from renewable sources (mainly geothermal and hydro). The CO2 footprint of a Qatari is 106 kg per day whereas it is only 30 kg for an Icelander (even if electricity is 100% renewable, Icelanders still need oil to run their cars and factories). [3] [4] That is 447.7 million people according to Eurostat as of 07/2020. [5] OECD. Material Resources, Productivity and the Environment. (2015) doi:10.1787/9789264190504-en. [6] [7] Yuval Noah Harari: The Actual Cost of Preventing Climate Breakdown | TED [8]

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