The “Energy Revolution Global Outllok” report, published by Drax and written by experts from the “Imperial College London” and E4tech, ranks the progress in 25 major world economies.
These countries account for 80% of global population, 77% of global GDP and 73% of the world’s CO2 emissions.
The report provides a league table regarding the efforts to clean up electricity generation, switch from oil to electric vehicles, deploy carbon capture and storage, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and tackle energy efficiency.
We refer directly to the report for an in-depth analysis, however we report below some key aspects of the study:
Progress on clean electricity
Electricity has been the fastest sector of the economy to decarbonise as countries move away from coal and embrace low-cost renewables. Yet the average carbon intensity of electricity worldwide has fallen only 7% in the last decade to 450 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour (gCO2/kWh).
Countries across Europe and North America have almost unanimously reduced the carbon intensity of their electricity over the last decade. They have done this by reducing their reliance on coal and increasing their share of renewables, as well as by reducing electricity demand in many cases.
On the other hand, several large Asian countries – Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia – increased their carbon intensity as they now rely more heavily on coal. China is one of the only Asian countries to be cleaning up its power system, having reduced carbon intensity by one-sixth this decade. The US is also progressing faster than most, behind only the UK and Denmark.
Progress on clean transport
Clean electricity could move beyond homes and offices to power the way we move. Electric vehicles are rapidly coming down in price, and several countries are now legislating the demise of the internal combustion engine over the coming decades.
Cleaning up the transport sector does not just rely on new technologies, however, as people could travel less or using more efficient forms such as public transport. The amount of energy consumed per person on transportation varies greatly across the world, with the average American consuming 10 times more than the average Indian.
Progress on energy efficiency
Efficiency is not only slow to improve in the transport sector. Improving the energy efficiency of buildings worldwide is urgently needed to reduce the demand for carbon-intensive heating.
Homes in most major countries are using less energy than they did a decade ago, per square metre of floor area.
This ranking is led by 4 European countries, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands and Great Britain, with reduction in energy consumption of about 30%, on the other hands China and South Africa close this ranking with an increase of about 30% and 50% respectively, due to the improvment of their living standards.
Progress on fossil fuels and carbon capture
Government support for fossil fuels is a perverse feature of many economies, holding back the transition away from coal, oil and gas. However, it has to be underlined that the definition of fossil fuel subsidies is still widely disputed.
The situation registered is however very disparate, several major fossil fuel producing nations with relatively small populations, such as Norway and Australia, provide hundreds of dollars per capita per year. On this measure, the UK also gives large subsidies. Whereas, India do not provide any subsidies to fossil fuels.
The development of CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) is very limited with only 18 large-scale plants in 6 different countries worldwide, mainly linked to oil and gas production.
Together, these CCS facilities are capable of capturing 32 million tonnes of CO2 each year. This is less than one-tenth of one percent of the roughly 37 billion tonnes of CO2 produced each year by the world’s energy sector.