Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions in Europe and Worldwide

Updated on 04.25.2022
High School

10 min read

Where does the European Union (EU) stand in terms of energy consumption and CO2 emissions compared with other regions of the world like the United States, China or the African continent?  In two simple tables, Planète Energies explains the major world energy balances.

Image of the European Union headquarters in Brussels, behind a row of European flags.

World energy consumption

Here is the total consumption - before transformation - of sources ( , oil, gas, nuclear, hydraulic, renewables) in several major regions of the World, from 2000 to 2019. Figures are given in millions of “tons of oil equivalent” (Mtoe). Beyond the absolute value of these figures, it is interesting to compare them and look at how they have evolved through the years.


In millions of toe

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019 In % (2019)
UE at 27 1,471 1,573 1,527 1,409 1 403 9.7%
China 1,144 1,794 2,550 3,013 3 403 23.5%
United States 2,273 2,318 2,216 2,186 2 213 15.3 %
Africa 490 586 687 773 857 5.9 %
World 10,003 11,470 12,813 13,574 14 486 -

 Source : EU Energy in figures

Comments on the table:
  • The figures from 2020 and 2021, though not yet consolidated, were significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which curbed economic activity and therefore consumption. 
  • The 27 countries of the European Union consume less than a tenth of world energy.
  • China and the United States combined consume four times as much as the EU.
  • China overtook the United States in 2010 and today consumes 50% more than it does.
  • Consumption in the European Union and the United States have stabilized, thanks to technological advances and efforts to save energy, as well as the effects of the economic crisis of 2008. China has tripled its consumption in 20 years.

The consumption of a geographical area is related to the number of inhabitants, but highly significant differences are sometimes observed that reflect the inequalities in living standards and development:  

  • The EU (606 million inhabitants) consumes almost twice as much energy as Africa (1.2 billion inhabitants).
  • The United States (303 million inhabitants) consumes half as much energy again as the amount consumed by the EU (606 million inhabitants).


World CO2 emissions

The European Union emits much less CO2  than China and the United States. Its emissions have been decreasing since 1990, whereas global emissions are still increasing.

The table below shows this evolution between 2000 and 2019. Emitted amounts are expressed in millions of tons of CO2.


In millions of tons of CO2

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019
UE at 27 3,266 3,389 3,134 2,825 2,651
China 3,138 5,449 7,872 9,178 9,919
United States 5,730 5,703 5,352 4,929 4,744
Africa 662 869 1,027 1,163 1,263
World 23,240 27,085 30,575 32,362 32,319

 Source : EU Energy in figures


Comments on the table:
  • China, which is rapidly developing, emits more than Europe, the United States and Africa together. However, the increase is slowing somewhat.
  • If the emissions are compared to the number of inhabitants, an African emits 14 times less than an American.
  • EU emissions are decreasing thanks to improved and energy-saving solutions. The significant decrease in the United States has been boosted by the gradual shift from coal to gas in the production of .
  • World CO2 emissions decreased in 2020. The decrease in emissions however, is due essentially to the Covid pandemic which generated a drop in world economic growth.

A territory’s emissions do not always reflect its actual “carbon footprint”. For example, China produces a lot of export goods, which are consumed in Europe and the United States, but the CO2  emissions they generated are attributed to China.  So the carbon footprint for Europe is approximately 30% higher than the footprint generated by its local consumption.

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