Global warming is a hot topic (get it!?). Anyway…
The fate of our planet, in relation to the environmental impact of human activity, has been vigorously discussed, debated and, it seems, disregarded – at least in relation to our use of fossil fuels.
Over the back-end of the twentieth century, and across the ensuing decade of the twenty-first, the unsustainable and damaging use of fossil fuels to power our respective economies has come under repeated scrutiny.
But has all our meticulous inquiry, oh-so-serious head-nodding and endless conferencing gathered momentum and garnered results? Does all the talk lead to action or just cover-up our inaction?
Today’s data visualization and data analysis is brought to you by: Yellowfin; now making Business Intelligence even easier.
- Data provider: World Bank (citing: International Energy Agency (IEA Statistics © OECD/IEA, http://www.iea.org/stats/index.asp))
- Visualizations supplied by: DataMarket
Consumption of fossil fuels as a percentage of total energy consumption by G8 nations (1960 – 2009)
You would expect that on a topic as important as fossil fuel consumption, the G8 nations would have taken proactive measures to provide a positive example for other countries and world leaders. Whilst all G8 countries, aside from Italy, have reduced their consumption of fossil fuels as a percentage of their total energy consumption, the reduction in most cases is minimal.
Despite the overall downward trend, France is the standout success story. In 1960, fossil fuels represented over 95 percent of France’s total energy consumption. After introducing the famous Messmer Plan in 1974, France drastically reduced its dependency on fossil fuels. From that time, France’s use of fossil fuels has been consistently falling, and in 2009, represented just over 50 percent of France’s total energy consumption. Germany also deserves a mention for its efforts to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels. Despite the fact that fossil fuels still accounted for approximately 79 percent of its energy consumption in 2009, in 1960, fossil fuels accounted for 99 percent of German’s total energy use.
Consumption of fossil fuels as a percentage of total energy consumption by Scandinavian nations (1960 – 2009)
Scandinavian countries have a reputation for cleanliness and modernity. It appears that this reputation is justified when it comes to their use of fossil fuels.
With the exception of France (50 percent), all other G8 nations rely on fossil fuels for well over 70 percent of their energy (as of 2009). By contrast, only one of the graphed Scandinavian nations – Denmark – uses fossil fuels for more than 60 percent of their total energy consumption. Iceland has reduced its fossil fuel consumption from 72 percent in 1960, to a mere 16 percent of its total energy consumption in 2009.
Whilst Norway is almost on par with France – the best performing G8 nation – relying on fossil fuels for 56 percent of its total energy consumption, it has only reduced its overall use of fossil fuels by four percent since 1960.
Consumption of fossil fuels as a percentage of total energy consumption by Europe’s easternmost nations (1960 – 2009)
The easternmost countries of Europe remain heavily dependent on fossil fuels. Moldova and Belarus still relied on fossil fuels for around 90 percent of their total energy consumption in 2009. Romania and Bulgaria used just under 80, with fossil fuels representing 63 percent of Albania’s total energy consumption.
By 1997, Albania’s use of fossil fuel had dipped significantly, only representing 41 percent of its total energy consumption. However, the general elections in June of that year brought the Socialists to power, and Albania’s use of fossil fuels began to rise sharply. In 2005, fossil fuels accounted for 68 percent of Albania’s total energy consumption. Then, as a result of the July 2005 elections, the Democratic Coalition ousted the Socialist Party. Albania’s dependency on fossil fuels simultaneously dipped again, representing 63 percent of the nation’s total energy consumption by 2009.
Conclusion: Are we there yet?
So what’s the verdict on our attempt, as a global community, to reduce our use of fossil fuels? Sadly, it appears that it’s too little. But, is it also, now, too late?