June 13, 2019

On June 13, 2019, the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center hosted Spencer Dale, group chief economist of BP, for the launch of BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2019. Amb. Richard Morningstar, founding chairman of the Global Energy Center at the Atlantic Council, introduced Dale and remarked upon the importance of the Statistical Review as the industry “gold standard,” as well as the general interpretation of this year’s report as gloomy due to rising global energy demand and emissions.

Following Morningstar’s introduction, Dale began his overview of the report, stressing global trends in energy demand, emissions, and weather effects. Dale described the “mismatch” between increased global urgency to mitigate climate change and rising energy demand and emissions. Consumption grew by 2.9 percent and carbon emissions by 2 percent, both the highest figures in years, largely driven by increased demand in China, India, and the United States. Dale also discussed factors that contribute to increased consumption despite slowing economic growth, especially Chinese industrial resurgence and weather effects demanding more energy for heating and cooling.

Dale also discussed oil and natural gas trends over the past year and the importance of cutting emissions in the power sector. Oil and natural gas demand both rose more than recent historical averages, and the United States achieved the largest ever annual growth rate for a single country in both natural gas and oil production. The United States also drove most of the rise in demand, with China’s gas demand also rising significantly to substitute for coal consumption. Dale closed his presentation with a discussion of the power sector, emphasizing the importance of its decarbonization. Despite the renewable energy surge in the last decade, the power sector fuel mix remains the same as twenty years ago. Dale argued that switching coal production to natural gas is key to cutting emissions, as switching just 10 percent of global coal consumption to natural gas would have the same impact on emissions as doubling the renewables capacities of China and the United States.

190613 Stats Review 2(L to R) Ben Geman and Spencer Dale at the Atlantic Council.


Ben Geman, energy reporter at Axios, then moderated a discussion with Dale and dove deeper into the effect of rising prosperity in developing countries on energy demand, how governments can accelerate the energy transition, and how electric vehicles (EVs) fit into that transition. Dale said he thinks the key to mitigating increased emissions from developing countries is efficient city planning. In terms of governments driving the energy transition, Dale argued that carbon pricing is necessary to economically drive the transition, governments should focus more on the power sector, and EVs are necessary but should be lower priority because they have less impact on emissions.

Members of the audience asked Dale about weather effects and energy demand, the rise of liquid natural gas, and how the energy transition will affect the geopolitical influence of oil and gas.


To watch the presentation and discussion, check out the event webcast here.


Spencer Dale also sat down with Global Energy Center Assistant Director Gray Johnson to discuss the key takeaways of the report in an interview. Watch it here.