World Carbon Intensity

Carbon intensity of TPES is the annual mass of emitted CO₂ per unit of supplied energy, and is a measure of the carbonisation of an energy system.
There was no net-decarbonisation of the world energy system during the 18 year period from 1999 to the end of 2017.

All data shown is the most recent available as of August 2020. The most recent year varies with dataset.

The carbon intensity of the world’s total primary energy supply in 2017 equalled that in 1999; humanity made no progress to decarbonise the world energy system during this 18 year period, and the rate of decarbonisation since has been roughly the same as that during 1990-2000.

Chart 1. World carbon intensity of TPES. Data: (i) Calculated using BP(2020).1 2 3 (ii) Calculated using IEA(2019).4 5
BP’s series of carbon intensity is about 10% higher than IEA’s because BP’s CO₂ emissions from fuel combustion pre-1995 are higher than IEA’s by 4 to 6%, and BP’s TPES does not fully account for biofuels. Both characteristics act in the same manner, to increase values of carbon intensity using BP’s dataset relative to that using the IEA’s.
Carbon accountancy rules allow countries to tally the CO₂ emissions from combustion of solid biofuels as zero (i.e. assume that biofuels are carbon-neutral, which may not be the case6), so although the IEA series of carbon intensity does account fully for energy from biofuels in the denominator, the numerator partially excludes the associated CO₂ emissions. Inclusion of these emissions would increase annual values of carbon intensity using the IEA’s dataset.

Carbon intensity values of world economies in 2019 are shown in the upper row of charts below, in red. The dotted line is world average. Changes relative to 1999 (two decades prior) are shown in the bottom row, in blue, with the dotted line denoting no change.

Chart 2. Carbon intensity of World and American national energy systems, 2019. Data: Calculated using BP(2020).1 2
Upper row: Absolute values of carbon intensity in 2019. Dotted line indicates value of world average in 2019.
Bottom row: Change of carbon intensity since 1999. Carbon intensity of region or country in 2019, divided by the region or country’s carbon intensity in 1999. Dotted line indicates 100% and therefore no change. A value less than 100% indicates decarbonisation.
Chart 3. Carbon intensity of European national energy systems, 2019. Data: Calculated using BP(2020).1 2
Upper row: Absolute values of carbon intensity in 2019. Dotted line indicates value of world average in 2019.
Bottom row: Change of carbon intensity since 1999. Carbon intensity of country in 2019, divided by the country’s carbon intensity in 1999. Dotted line indicates 100% and therefore no change. A value less than 100% indicates decarbonisation.
Chart 4. Carbon intensity of CIS, Middle Eastern, African and Asian Pacific national energy systems, 2019. Data: Calculated using BP(2020).1 2
Upper row: Absolute values of carbon intensity in 2019. Dotted line indicates value of world average in 2019.
Bottom row: Change of carbon intensity since 1999. Carbon intensity of country in 2019, divided by the country’s carbon intensity in 1999. Dotted line indicates 100% and therefore no change. A value less than 100% indicates decarbonisation.
Footnotes
  1. https://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/energy-economics/statistical-review-of-world-energy.html()()()()
  2. BP does not fully account for biofuels, and these may not be carbon-neutral, as explained at https://www.worldenergydata.org/biofuels/()()()()
  3. Biofuels on this website are the summation of solid and liquid biofuels, and therefore Geothermal, Biofuels and Other equals the summation of BP’s data for ‘Geo, Biomass and Other’ and ‘Biofuels’.()
  4. CO₂ data: https://www.iea.org/subscribe-to-data-services/co2-emissions-statistics()
  5. Energy data: Calculated by applying the substitution method of energy equivalency to IEA(2019) https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-tables?country=WORLD as per https://www.worldenergydata.org/energy-accounting/.()
  6. https://www.worldenergydata.org/biofuels/()