"By 2070, the passenger road market could be nearly oil-free." That's the key line (for us, anyway) in a report out from Shell titled New Lens Scenarios. The oil giant is trying to understand the future (who isn't?) and to do that, it envisioned two possible futures, one called "Mountains" and the other "Oceans."

The two scenarios have some things in common: the idea of a world population at nine billion by 2050, increased prosperity and global energy demand. Given those situations, what's the world going to come to? No one knows for sure, but here are Shell's guesses, in short:

"Mountains" implies "a strong role for government" that is not afraid to implement "far-reaching policy measures." These measures mean that cities will develop in more compact ways and "new policies unlock plentiful natural gas resources – making it the largest global energy source by the 2030s – and accelerate carbon capture and storage technology, supporting a cleaner energy system." That sounds like it has some potential, but the problem is that, "nevertheless, the global average temperature rise overshoots the current 2°C goal."

"Oceans," on the other hand takes place in "a more prosperous and volatile world." This is the scenario where solar overtakes natural gas as the world's largest energy source as "power is more widely distributed and governments take longer to agree major decisions." Oil and coal power stick around, but they're slowly replaced by renewable energy. This, too, isn't an ideal solution, since "these measures are not sufficient to address environmental concerns, as greenhouse gas emissions follow a pathway towards a high degree of climate change."

You can get the full 48-page PDF here and see a short video below. A key prediction comes on page 20, in a section called "A Changing Transportation Infrastructure." The long-term view is that:

By 2070, the passenger road market could be nearly oil-free and towards the end of the century an extensive hydrogen infrastructure rollout displaces oil demand for long haul and heavy loads. By this time, electricity and hydrogen may dominate, and affordable, plug-in, hybrid hydrogen vehicles offer the ultimate in flexibility and efficiency.

2070 is a looooong way away, and we're not going to put money on Shell's predictions quite yet. It's still interesting to think about, though, and we'd like to hear your views in the Comments.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 60 Comments
      kipswork
      • 1 Year Ago
      What happened to the mad max scenario? Driving around in bondage leather killing each other for a tank of juice? I was looking forward to that! I already have the football pads.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      So the Middle East will return to Third World status then.
      over9000
      • 1 Year Ago
      These graphs should also be titled as "Middle East GDP"
      stevenh
      • 1 Year Ago
      guess I will be always driving gas cars in my lifetime
      thedriveatfive
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just think about all the flying cars that were predicted 60 years ago.... yeah that really turned out to be widespread...
      mogli
      • 1 Year Ago
      "2070 is a looooong way away, and we're not going to put money on Shell's predictions quite yet. It's still interesting to think about, though, and we'd like to hear your views in the Comments." It'll be here faster than anyone who chooses to think along timeframes defined by human generations can imagine. One of the reasons that people choose not to be proactive on climate change issues and the future condition of the planet is rooted in this limited perspective. Less than sixty years? That is infinitesimally small in geologic or evolutionary terms. I'm a natural resources scientist, though, so my scale of reference has been calibrated differently.
      VL00
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well, its not hard to predict using much less oil in 60 years - its called depletion of a finite resource. Shell says we consumed half of it already, and a quarter of it was just in the last 10-12 years.
      Carboy45
      • 1 Year Ago
      This "report" assumes that "global warming - climate change" is caused by people, and can be affected by people. Both of which are not true. If increased population is the cause of this non-problem, be patient. A few good earthquakes in Asia and the middle east will help moderate this a little. A couple of wars in the middle east and Africa will further help get the number of environment-wrecking people back in line. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to buying my next pure gasoline-burning vehicle.
        Technoir
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Carboy45
        How do you know, you heard it on Fox News? Or are you a climatologist? I am neither, but between nonsense I hear on TV and a scientific study backed by 95% of the world's scientific community, I chose the latter.
      Fazzster
      • 1 Year Ago
      In the 20's it was predicted airships will be the primary form of air travel. In the 50's it was predicted the automobile would be replaced by flying cars. How many times has it been predicted that oil would run out? Yet, despite increased demand, there is still a surplus. Russia believes oil is renewable. Whether oil is renewable or or man is the cause for "climate" change has much to do with which way the political winds blow and not necessarily sound science. .
        Technoir
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Fazzster
        Fazzster " Russia believes oil is renewable. Whether oil is renewable or or man is the cause for "climate" change has much to do with which way the political winds blow and not necessarily sound science. ." FACT: 95% of the world's scientific community says that man is responsible for climate change. FoxNews and the television in general are not a good source of information.
          Cayman
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Technoir
          While I do believe that man is responsible for climate change, I seriously doubt that 95% of the scientific community has publicly said as much.
          Cayman
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Technoir
          I bet that less than 95% of the scientific community has really and seriously looked into climate change so I seriously doubt that 95% have made a public position. We can all sit around and bet what other people think and we can use random surveys to even make guesstimates on what all scientists believe, but that doesn't make it a fact. You really need to be careful about what we declare is and isn't a fact. I believe most scientists that have looked into climate change believe man plays a role, but lets not confuse that with fact.
          Matt
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Technoir
          Seeing how the scientific community peer reviews to validate or invalidate results and all of the science journals and publications as well as research institutes agree on climate change, I'll bet 95% of the community does agree. The 5% that doesn't being the "experts" that Fox News likes to use.
        Carboy45
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Fazzster
        Good points. If oil is made/the result of decomposed plants, as generally believed, then it is, indeed, a renewable resource. I have heard of at least one company in the United States that is making oil now from plants.
        Jerry
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Fazzster
        Naturally occurring oil takes so long to form that it cannot considered renewable. We are finding new wells and sources all the time, but we are really having to work for it I suspect that Russia is referring to biofuels, or man made oil. Have never heard anyone, anywhere suggest that the Earth will be able to naturally produce oil at a sustainable rate against our ever increasing consumption levels forever. It is not if we will run out, it is when. Might be 50 years from now, but it will happen.
      mitytitywhitey
      • 1 Year Ago
      We could all start driving electric cars today, and the environment would still be forfeited due to increasing population. The 3rd world will kill off the majority of all non-domesticated species (deforestation for land use) by the time the 1st world gets finished figuring out the silly argument for which cars to drive. Elephant rhino tiger lion will go extinct because there are too many people invading their habitats. And I think its already too late for the polar bear. If there were a few million people on Earth, they could all drive the dirtiest vehicle imaginable with minimal impact. 6 billion + is too many even for the electric car 'solution'
      Car Guy
      • 1 Year Ago
      And 60 years ago they said we would all be in flying cars by now. Whatever.
      delsolo1
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was hoping the obituary for gas combustion engines would be written sooner
    • Load More Comments