The problem that dominates the public debate on energy is climate change. A climate crisis endangers the natural environment around us, our current well-being, and the well-being of those who persecute us.
It is energy production that is responsible for 87% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and as the following table shows, people in the richest countries have the highest emissions.
This table will guide us through the discussion of the world's energy problem. It shows per capita CO2 emissions on the vertical axis versus the median income in that country on the horizontal axis.
In countries where people have an average income between $15,000 and $20,000, per capita, CO2 emissions are close to the world average (4.8 tons of CO2 per year). In all countries where the average income of the people is above $25,000, the average per capita emissions is higher than the world average.
The world's CO2 emissions have increased rapidly and reached 36.6 billion tons in 2018. As we emit greenhouse gases, their concentration in the atmosphere increases. To end climate change, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere must stabilize, and to achieve this, global greenhouse gas emissions have to decrease towards net-zero.
Reducing emissions to net-zero will be one of the world's greatest challenges in the coming years. But the world's energy problem is actually even bigger than that because the world has not one, but two energy problems.