Jessyca Sheehan, associate director, is a member of APCO’s global energy and clean tech practice.
Every four years following the presidential election, the U.S. National Intelligence Council produces a report to aid the president and members of Congress in their thinking and approach to critical global issues. This year’s Global Trends Report leverages in-depth research, analysis and expert opinion to predict major trends and game changers – and their implications – between now and 2030 in such areas as water, food, energy, technology and public health.
As it relates to energy and the environment, anticipated megatrends and game changers identified in the report include:
- By 2030 demand for water and energy will rise 40 and 50 percent respectively due to continued economic growth in the developing world and an increase in the global population.
- Nearly half of the world’s population will live in areas experiencing water scarcity, with Africa, the Middle East, China and India among the most vulnerable for both water and food shortages.
- The U.S. could achieve energy independence in the next 10-20 years, thanks largely to having sufficient natural gas resources to meet domestic needs for decades to come.
- While alternative energy supplies will continue to grow, they are not expected to make up an appreciable share (25% or more) of the global energy portfolio until 2050 – and achieving this will require more investment than what we are seeing today.
- There will be new technological breakthroughs to deal with water, food and energy challenges, with advanced bio-based fuels, solar energy and water management among those technologies expected to be at the forefront. Developing countries most affected by resource shortages and climate change stand to reap the greatest benefits by being first to commercialize next-generation resource technologies.
- An increased demand for water will motivate governments to change their water-pricing policies to encourage water conservation, such as adjusting the policy that farmers pay a fraction of the price households and industry pay for water.
- Extreme weather events like hurricanes, heat waves and droughts will increase in frequency during the next 20 years, with climate change making these extreme events even more intense.
While the primary intended audience of this report is U.S. policymakers, each Global Trends report has generated more interest and reached a larger audience than the one four years previous, according to the Intelligence Council. We’re curious to hear from those of you who have read it. What predictions caught your attention?