The trouble with reading such reports on controversial topics is that the first thing to look for is who is sponsoring the report, and who is writing the report. In almost all cases, the Economist does not have a byline, so the reports are mostly anonymous. This report comes with the caveat that the report and the conference was sponsored by Shell. Like all energy companies, their record has been less than stellar. One hopes that one can trust the authority of the authors: serious academics, policy makers and a long-time Greenpeace activist.
Report on Global Energy Conversation: Transitions from West to East
One the most startling facts is that India and China have increased their energy consumption by 116% and 149% in the last 20 years. In contrast, America has increased it by 19% (but their consumption was already very high). See: Key Findings
This brings me back to an excellent book that got a lot of press when it first came out, but has been somewhat been lost in the noise. Jared Diamond's Collapse. A review was posted on the literary blog. His main thesis is that civilizations have many reasons to prosper, but in many cases they fail because they fail to respond to environmental challenges appropriately. He presents case studies of the past and present using examples from Rwanda, Easter Island, Australia, Montana, etc.