Monday, July 24, 2017

Facts about Carbon Emissions from Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal

The BP Statistical Review of World Energy is a useful annual volume that compiles tables and charts about about energy production and consumption. The latest version, released June 2017, includes a table at the end on recent and current carbon emissions from oil, natural gas, and coal. As a footnote under the table emphasizes, this does not include all greenhouse gases (for example, methane is not included), nor does it subtract carbon emissions which have been sequestered or offset in some way. Moreover, while other tables and figures in the book offer data on production of hydroelectric, nuclear, solar, wind, and other noncarbon energy alternatives. this table has a different focus.

Here's a whittled-down version of the tables: specifically, I took out the annual data on emissions for the years from 2007-2015. Thus, the first column is carbon emissions for 2006; the second column is carbon emissions for 2016; the next two columns show the annual growth rate of carbon emissions for 2016 and for the decade from 2005-2015; and the final column shows each country's or region's share of global carbon emissions in 2016.

What are some of the notable patterns here?

1) Anyone who follows this topic at all knows that China leads the world in carbon emissions. Still, it's striking to me that China accounts for 27.3% of world carbon emissions, compared to 16% for the US.

2) On a regional basis, it's striking  that the Asia Pacific region--led by China, India, and Japan, but also with substantial contributions from Indonesia, South Korea, and Australia--by itself accounts for nearly half of global carbon emissions. Moreover, carbon emissions from his region grew 3.6% annually from 2005-2015.

3) Again on a regional basis, carbon emissions from North America (that is, mainly the United States) are nearly the same as carbon emissions from the Europe/Eurasia region. For both regions, carbon emissions have been falling at about 1% per year since 2005.

4) Given the large size of carbon emissions for the massive US economy, and the ongoing decline in the last decade, total carbon emissions for the United States have dropped much more than for any other country in the world from 2005-2016. A number of other nations with smaller total emissions have seen a faster annual rate of decline than the United States. But two of the countries which rank among those with the most rapid declines in carbon emissions from 2005-2015--Ukraine and Greece--are surely more about overall macroeconomic struggles than about as smooth transition to noncarbon energy sources.

5) Total carbon emissions from the three regions of South and Central America, the Middle East, and Africa total 14.1% of the global total, and thus their combined total is less than either the United States or the European/Eurasian economies. However, if the carbon emissions for this group of three regions keeps growing at 3% per year, while the carbon emissions for the US economy keeps falling at 1% per year, their carbon emissions will outstrip the US in about 4-5 years.