Statistics bulletin: energy and CO2 emissions in the OECD

Across the OECD, emissions from electricity are decreasing due to stabilization of demand and penetration of low emitting sources, a report from the International Energy Agency reveals.

Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

Emissions from electricity generation in OECD started to decrease after the Great Financial Recession thanks to the combined effect of low emitting sources, as well as stabilization of demand levels. After rising by almost 2% every year until 2010, total electricity demand in the OECD remained stable for seven consecutive years, contributing to a -13% decrease in emissions from electricity between 2010 and 2017.

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CO2 emissions and electricity generation in OECD, 1990-2017.

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Annual change in emissions from electricity in OECD: driving factors

Overall, this also drove the decrease in total emissions (-6%), although preliminary analysis suggests this trend did not continue in 2018.

While buildings and industry show decarbonizing trends, transport emissions are still growing.

This stabilization of electricity demand has occurred both in industry, since the beginning of the 2000s, and more recently in buildings. Both sectors became more efficient and also benefitted from the falling carbon-intensity of the electricity they used, thereby reducing their CO2 emissions (14% and -7% respectively between 2010 and 2017). On the other hand, emissions from transport continued to rise in 2017, back to pre-crisis levels and approaching the levels in the buildings sector.

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Direct and indirect emissions by sector, (left) and electricity consumption by sector, (right), OECD

For transport, and despite exponential growth in biofuels consumption, the penetration of lower emitting sources – in particular, electricity – was not able to offset the increasing energy demand. Indeed, electricity and natural gas shares in total consumption between 1990 and 2017 remained relatively stable, and only represent a small share of energy consumption in the sector.

In the OECD transport accounts on average for almost two-fifth of total final energy consumption, although shares vary greatly by country. Both, consumption of low emitting sources and low carbon electricity can contribute to a decrease in OECD emissions in transport and total.

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Consumption in transport by source, OECD

To provide stakeholders with robust data on energy consumption and emissions trends, the IEA has just released the first edition of Energy balances, Energy statistics and CO2 emissions from fuel combustion, which provide comprehensive data by energy source and sector for OECD countries and selected emerging economies. More specific statistics by fuel are made available in the ad-hoc Oil, Gas, Coal, Electricity and Renewables databases.

News | 24.4.2019

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