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Expand chart
Adapted from a Resources for the Future report; Chart: Axios Visuals 

A new online tool offers an interactive, apples-to-apples comparison of long-term global energy outlooks issued by intergovernmental bodies, major oil companies and others.

Why it matters: These detailed projections and scenarios inform policymakers, analysts, activists and really anyone trying to grapple with where the world might be headed.

But, but, but: A big challenge is that it's tough to compare big reports on the future of various fuels, and global or regional demand from parties like the International Energy Agency and Royal Dutch Shell.

  • They differ on metrics used for energy consumption, such as how they report carbon emissions, economic assumptions and data presentation.

Enter the interactive tool and accompanying report from scholars with the nonpartisan think tank Resources for the Future, which harmonizes these huge and distinct long-term analyses.

The big picture: The tool cleanly compares how these reports project the future based on current and planned national policies, and climate-friendly scenarios offered by some of the analyses.

Here are some high-level takeaways from the comparison:

  • The studies agree that absent strong climate efforts, consumption grows "20–30% or more through 2040 and beyond, led largely by fossil fuels," notes RFF president Richard Newell and colleagues Daniel Raimi and Gloria Aldana.
  • That's driven largely in the global "east" — that is, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East — while consumption in the global "west" is largely flat.
  • Renewables surge, but without more ambition on climate, they "primarily add to, rather than displace, fossil fuels."

The intrigue: "Under ambitious climate scenarios, the global economy becomes much more energy efficient, global coal consumption declines by more than half relative to current levels, oil use falls by up to 20%, natural gas increases modestly, nuclear energy grows by more than 50%, renewables more than double, and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are deployed at scale by 2040."

Where it stands: Beneath high-level areas of agreement, the analysis shows that modelers with different companies and organizations can diverge a lot. For instance...

  • IEA's "current policies" case sees coal use growing 38% in the global "east" by 2040, while the U.S. Energy Information Administration sees a 6% rise there.
  • BP, Equinor, and IEA diverge sharply in how much carbon capture and storage comes online by 2040
  • In scenarios that would keep temperature rise below 2°C, Shell's "Sky" scenario is notable for assuming widespread deployment of carbon dioxide removal tech.

Go deeper: Take the model for a spin

Go deeper

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

Trump pardons former GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy

President Trump has pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty late last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a campaign to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Why it matters: Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee early in Trump’s presidency, and attempted to leverage his influence in the Trump administration on behalf of his clients. The president's decision to pardon Broidy represents one last favor for a prominent political ally.

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