Sunday, 29 June 2014

Inequality of Energy Consumption between Developing and Developed Nations

In a previous post I discussed the relationship between the increase in the population of the world, and associated increases in energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions since the industrial revolution. In the current post I'll break down the contributions to population, energy use and CO2 from the developed and developing world over the passed 20 year period. I've defined the group of developed nations by those currently in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The current OECD countries are: Australia; Austria; Belgium; Canada; Chile; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Korea; Luxembourg; Mexico; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Slovak Republic; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey; United Kingdom; and the United States. The remaining nations are denoted as non-OECD. The data presented below has been downloaded from the gapminder website [1], which is a collection of various socio-economic data from various sources.

The first distinction between the developed (OECD) and developing (non-OECD) worlds is done on the basis of population. In the figure below the OECD population is illustrated by the orange line, the non-OECD world by the yellow, and the sum of the two giving the total world population is illustrated by the blue line. The OECD population has remained relatively constant at 1 billion people. Over this same period the non-OECD world has increased from approximately 5 to 6.5 billion people. The majority of people live in the non-OECD world, and the recent population growth has also come from these nations.
There is approximately 4 times the number of people in the developing world, as compared to the developed world. However, as illustrated in the figure below, up until 2005 the developed world actually consumed more total energy. In all the figures presented in this post energy is quantified as billions of tonnes of equivalent oil, regardless of where the energy has come from. The OECD energy consumption has been relatively constant over the passed 20 years, with the increase in the world's energy consumption coming from the non-OECD countries. This is due both to the increased standards of living in the non-OECD countries, and the manufacturing of products for markets in OECD countries.

A measure of a nation's standard of living is the average energy consumed per person per year. This measure has remained relatively constant over the passed 20 years, for the OECD countries, with a slight increase in the non-OECD countries. The key observation from this figure is that energy consumed per capita (or standard of living) is 4 times greater in the developed world than the developing world.

Considering only countries with more than 10 million people, the 13 nations with the highest level of energy use per capita in 2010 are illustrated in the figure below. The only two non-OECD nations in this list of countries are Saudia Arabia and Russia, both of which have significant oil reserves. This list is in fact an indication of the countries with the highest standards of living in the world. It is not obvious at this point, however, how carbon intensive the consumed energy is, and hence what the impact that this high standard of living has on the environment.

For this list of countries presented in the same order, the CO2 emmisions per person per year are illustrated in the figure below. Belgium and France are now reduced relative to the other countries, due to the higher percentage contribution of nuclear and wind power to the supplied energy.

In summary 4 times more people live in the developing world, however, people in the developed world use 4 times more energy per person. It is worth noting that the impact this high standard of living has on the environment is dependent upon the source of the energy supply (i.e. fossil fuels, nuclear power, renewable).


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