“Burn, baby, burn” – more CO2, not less

The Economist has an interesting article on the situation of world energy following the latest report by BP. Here is what it says:

“NOT since 1973 has world energy use increased by as much, in percentage terms, as it did in 2010. According to BP’s annual Statistical Review of World Energy, published today, 2010’s energy consumption was up by 5.6% on the year before. In part this is thanks to recovery from the economic crisis; in part it is down to the longer-term shift in economic activity towards emerging economies, which are less efficient in their energy use.

Robust growth was seen in all regions and in almost all types of energy use: the world consumed more of every main fuel bar one than it had in any previous year. Consumption of oil, which accounts for 34% of the world’s primary energy by BP’s calculations, rose by 3.1%. Coal, at 30% the number two fuel, was up by 7.6%, growing faster than at any time since 2003. Consumption of gas, which contributes 24%, was up by 7.4%, the biggest annual growth since 1984.

The growth in fossil fuels was so strong that although non-fossil-fuel energy also had a record year, its share of the world total primary energy decreased a little.”

Roger Pielke Jr. also comments on this and alerts to the fact that the energy intensity of the economy is increasing amidst hopes and claims for radical carbon dioxide emission resductions. Not only are we not making steps forwards (to reducing carbon, the economy seems to welcome these facts)  but moving backwards. Here is what he says also quoting a Financial Times article:

Globally, energy consumption grew more rapidly than the economy, meaning the energy intensity of economic activity rose for a second consecutive year. “Energy intensity – the amount of energy used for one unit of GDP – grew at the fastest rate since 1970,” said Mr Rühl.

Close readers of this blog will note that BP’s conclusion on the increasing energy intensity of GDP helps to explain the trend of a deceleration in the carbon intensity of GDP.  Note that the IEA data I had relied on in that earlier post was based on a 5% growth in both GDP and carbon dioxide emissions  in 2010.  Using the higher5..8% increase in carbon dioxide emissions calculated by BP would mean that the world actually became more carbon intensive in 2010.

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