The EI Statistical Review of World Energy (Statistical Review), released in June 2023 and reporting full year data for 2022, indicated that global energy demand had recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and, despite record levels of investment in renewable energy, global greenhouse gas emissions continued to rise, also reaching record levels. The conclusion was that the energy transition is not on track to meet the targets set under the Paris Agreement in 2015. This was confirmed later in September with the release of the United Nation’s first Global Stocktake, the results of which being a key talking point at COP28 in Dubai. This is the first indicator of overall progress made by Parties towards their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Compiling the global stocktake is a two-year process scheduled to happen every five years. The first global stocktake commenced in 2022 with the next not scheduled for release until 2028 and again in 2033 etc.; a level of frequency that allows for just five more updates between now and 2050, the critical date for limiting the rise in global temperatures to well below 2oC.
To provide a more frequent update of energy transition progress, the Energy Institute has created its annual Statistical Review Country Transition Tracker. Recognising that the energy transition is not just about addressing climate change, the Country Transition Tracker uses country-level data contained in the Statistical Review to build a picture of progress across three broad fronts:
The Country Transition Tracker provides users with a regular means to draw their own conclusions about whether or not the world is on track to meet its 2050 targets. It considers progress made since 2017, the first full year after formal ratification of the Paris Agreement, the driver for near-universal climate action.
Summarising data from across 2017 to 2022 for just 21 (collectively responsible for 80% of total global energy consumption) of the 80 countries featured in the Statistical Review, it is apparent that progress across the six areas assessed is highly varied. The extent to which how relatively advanced a country is in its progress is reflected by how green its ratings are. The highest area of lag is in contribution of renewable energy to the total energy mix which is particularly reflected in decarbonisation of the power sector. The most advanced region on these metrics is Europe alongwith Brazil.
This landscape plots the relative positioning of the world’s highest energy consuming countries according to their primary energy intensity (a measure of the total energy used to support economic and social activity), the extent to which renewable energy has penetrated their energy systems, and the change in energy related CO2e emissions (both magnitude and direction) between 2017 and 2022. Over time, positive energy transition progress will see nations move down the Y-axis and along the X-axis. Although outside of the top 21 energy consuming nations, Iceland is the most advanced country in terms of renewable energy consumption with 84% of total energy consumed coming from sustainable sources, followed by Norway at 72%, and Sweden at 53%.
Between 2017 and 2022, greenhouse gas emissions from energy increased on average by 0.7% each year. During this period, global energy markets were disrupted by both the COVID-19 pandemic and conflict in Ukraine (significantly undermining its own energy demand). The largest reductions in emissions were achieved by Germany and Japan (127 and 127 million tonnes respectively). The large percentage rises in energy related emissions witnessed by China and India between 2017 and 2022 were also reflected in large rises in absolute volumes, 1,394 and 372 million tonnes respectively. China’s rise alone was sufficient to offset the total number of reductions made elsewhere in the world across this period.
Between 2017 and 2022, global consumption of fossil fuels grew by nearly 3.5% (16 exajoules). The largest increase was in demand for natural gas which increased by 8% (10 exajoules), whilst demand for oil fell slightly by 0.2% (-0.3 exajoules) with Japan and Germany registering the largest reductions. A net increase in global demand for coal of 6 exajoules was primarily led by China and India (9.5 and 3 exajoules respectively). The US reduced its coal consumption by nearly 30%, a decline of 4 exajoules and the largest fall of any nation.
Renewables were the only source of primary energy where every country grew its consumption between 2017 and 2022. However, despite growing by 35% over this period and achieving record levels of investment in 2022, renewable energy still only met around 14% of global energy demand in 2022. China was by far the biggest market for renewable energy, growing by over 9 exajoules, followed by the US at 2.4 and India at 1.4 exajoules. Europe has the highest representation in the Top Ten countries, holding seven of the top ten spots. As a region, the Middle East dominates the worst performing segment, holding four of the ten lowest positions in the league table.
The power sector is often cited as one of the easier sectors to decarbonise with a range of proven low carbon technologies (renewable and nuclear) to invest in as well as gas-fired combined cycle gas turbines (CCGTs), a readily deployable and relatively low carbon intensive fossil fuel option to displace more carbon intensive coal, oil, diesel, and inefficient gas-fired power generation. Whilst China ranks the highest in terms of actual generation from low carbon sources (primarily hydro followed by wind, solar, and nuclear), combined they only contribute around 35% to its total electricity generation. It is followed by the US and then Brazil in terms of actual volume of output from low carbon sources.
The carbon intensity ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to energy consumption indicates how clean an energy system is with respect to emitting harmful gases that contribute to climate change. It is one of a range of metrics that can be used to measure how efficiently economic and social activities are at consuming energy. It is heavily influenced by both the mix of primary energy inputs and the efficiency of conversion and end-use technologies deployed within a given system. For instance, for power generation, a modern coal-fired plant emits around 950 grammes of CO2/kWh whereas a more efficient combined cycle gas turbine emits around 350 grammes of CO2/kWh. Countries such as France, Brazil, Norway, and Sweden that rely heavily on renewables and/or nuclear power have particularly low levels of carbon intensity. Countries with the highest levels tend to be characterised by strong dependency on oil and coal as well as relatively inefficient technologies to convert and consume primary energy.
As a measure of the total amount of energy consumed divided by a country’s population, the level of energy consumption per capita can be interpreted in several ways. On the one hand, a high score can infer profligate or wasteful use of energy, whilst a low one can infer limited access to energy for large elements of the population. In 2022, half of the top ten rated countries came from the Middle East where demand for air conditioning is high for long periods of the year. Those ranked in the very lowest levels are generally considered to be of developing nation status or are relatively less densely populated. It is one way of considering the extent to which there is universal access to energy, a key element of the energy transition, within a given country. In 2022 the global average was 153 gigajoules per capita with Europe averaging around 142.
The ratio of energy use to GDP considers the total energy used to support economic and social activity. In aggregating all energy consumption resulting from a wide range of production and consumption activities, it is one measure of how efficient an economy is at using energy. Whilst Ireland tops the table, this is a result of an adjustment rather than a material reduction in intensity. From 2015, several large multinationals relocated their economic activities and underlying intellectual property to Ireland in order to access low corporation tax rates. GDP increased suddenly by 25% without any material impact on energy demand, hence a significantly low score. Of the countries notable for having large energy intensive manufacturing bases, Germany had the lowest energy intensity rating in 2022 at 2.9 megajoules per $ GDP, followed by Japan at 3.4, South Korea at 5.5, and China at 6.1.
The methodology for compiling the EI Statistical Review of World Energy can be found here.
All of the data behind the charts used in this assessment are available as excel and csv downloads. The tables contain additional data for 1990, 2008, 2012, 2017 and 2022 for all countries itemised in the Statistical Review. This enables users to take a historical view of change over time but also to benchmark progress against the pivotal years of: