Feature Report: Tables Summing Up Energy in Europe

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Energy Consumption and CO2 Emissions in Europe and Worldwide

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.
Faced with the United States and China, faced with a developing Africa, Europe is a strong economic entity, attentive to climate issues

World energy consumption

Here is the total consumption - before transformation - of primary energyAll energy sources that have not undergone any conversion process and remain in their natural state.. sources (coalCoal is ranked by its degree of transformation or maturity, increasing in carbon content from... , oil, gas, nuclear, hydraulic, renewables) in several major regions of the World, from 2000 to 2019. Figures are given in millions of “ton of oil equivalent (toe)Unit of energy measurement corresponding to the energy produced by the combustion of a ton of oil... ” (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.

Comment

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 CO2See Carbon Dioxid

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:

 Comment

A territory’s emissions do not always reflect its actual “carbon footprintThe carbon footprint (also known as greenhouse gas inventory) of a good or service measures the impact human activities have on the environment ... ”. 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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