Energy & Environment

Energy moves the world, from powering vehicles and industries to providing electricity and heat to households. Commercially produced energy can be derived from a variety of sources, including fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables. Fossil fuels have been the world’s choice since the Industrial Revolution, but because of their price volatility, and most importantly their direct relation to carbon emissions and climate change, many countries have started diversifying their primary energy sources, particularly to renewables.

Despite civilization’s dependence on nature for energy, food, and water, human activity has severely impacted the environment in recent centuries. Climate change has become the largest crisis ever faced by humankind. Carbon emissions, water pollution, and waste management are a few of the many environmental issues to be tackled in the coming decades.

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  • Annual carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions worldwide from 1940 to 2023 (in billion metric tons)
    Dec 5, 2023

    Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry totaled 37.15 billion metric tons (GtCO₂) in 2022. Emissions are projected to have risen 1.1 percent in 2023 to reach a record high of 37.55 GtCO₂. Since 1990, global CO₂ emissions have increased by more than 60 percent.

    Who are the biggest emitters?

    The biggest contributor to global GHG emissions is China, followed by the United States. China wasn't always the world's biggest emitter, but rapid economic growth and industrialization in recent decades have seen emissions there soar. Since 1990, CO₂ emissions in China have increased by more than 400 percent. By comparison, U.S. CO₂ emissions have fallen by 2.6 percent. Nevertheless, the North American country remains the biggest carbon polluter in history

    Global events cause emissions to drop

    The outbreak of COVID-19 caused global CO₂ emissions to plummet some 5.5 percent in 2020 as a result of lockdowns and other restrictions. However, this wasn't the only time in recent history when a major global event caused emissions reductions. For example, the global recession resulted in CO₂ levels to fall by almost two percent in 2009, while the recession in the early 1980s also had a notable impact on emissions. On a percentage basis, the largest annual reduction was at the end of the Second World War in 1945, when emissions decreased by 17 percent.

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  • Global carbon dioxide emissions from 1970 to 2022, by sector (in million metric tons of carbon dioxide)
    Sep 8, 2023

    The power industry is the largest contributor to global carbon dioxide emissions by far. In 2022, global power industry emissions increased by one percent from 2021 levels to reach a record high of 14.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (GtCO₂). This accounted for roughly 38 percent of global CO₂ emissions.

    Where are power sector emissions highest? 

    China is the world's biggest power sector emitter. In 2022, Chinese power plants, the majority of which are coal-fired, released almost five GtCO₂ into the atmosphere. China's power sector emissions have risen five-fold since 2000, owing to the country's rapid economic growth over the past two decades. By comparison, power sector emissions in the U.S. have fallen by more than 20 percent since 2000. 

    Emissions from coal combustion

    The power sector is a major source of emissions due to coal being the most used source for electricity generation worldwide. Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels, and emits roughly twice as much CO₂ as natural gas when combusted. Coal-fired power accounts for almost 70 percent of global power sector emissions

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  • Primary energy consumption worldwide in 2023, by country (in exajoules)
    Jun 20, 2024

    China is the largest consumer of primary energy in the world, using some 170.7 exajoules in 2023. This is a lot more than what the United States consumed, which comes in second place. The majority of primary energy fuels are still derived from fossil fuels such as oil and coal.

    China's energy mix

    China’s primary energy mix has shifted from a dominant use of coal to an increase in natural gas and renewable sources. Since 2012, the renewables share in total energy consumption has grown by around eight percentage points. Overall, global primary energy consumption has increased over the last decade, but it is expected to experience the largest growth in emerging economies like the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India, and China. 

    What is primary energy?

    Primary energy is the energy inherent in natural resources such as crude oil, coal, and wind before further transformation. For example, crude oil can be refined into secondary fuels, such as gasoline or diesel, while wind is harnessed for electricity - itself a secondary energy source. A country’s total primary energy supply is a measure of the country’s primary energy sources. Meanwhile, end use energy is the energy directly consumed by the user and includes primary fuels such as natural gas, as well as secondary sources, like electricity and gasoline.

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  • Natural gas commodity prices in Europe and the United States from 1980 to 2023, with a forecast for 2024 and 2025 (in U.S. dollars per million British thermal units)
    Apr 26, 2024

    In 2023, the price of natural gas in Europe reached 13.1 constant U.S. dollars per million British thermal units, compared with 2.5 U.S. dollars in the U.S. This was a notable decrease compared to the previous year, which had seen a steep increase in prices due to an energy supply shortage exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war. Since 1980, natural gas prices have typically been higher in Europe than in the United States and are expected to remain so for the coming two years. This is due to the U.S. being a significantly larger natural gas producer than Europe.

    What is natural gas and why is it gaining ground in the energy market? Natural gas is commonly burned in power plants with combustion turbines that generate electricity or used as a heating fuel. Given the fact that the world’s energy demand continues to grow, natural gas was seen by some industry leaders as an acceptable "bridge-fuel" to overcome the use of more emission-intensive energy sources such as coal. Subsequently, natural gas has become the main fuel for electricity generation in the U.S., while the global gas power generation share has reached 22 percent.

    How domestic production shapes U.S. natural gas prices The combination of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and horizontal drilling can be regarded as one of the oil and gas industry’s biggest breakthroughs in decades, with the U.S. being the largest beneficiary. This technology has helped the industry release unprecedented quantities of gas from deposits, mainly shale and tar sands that were previously thought either inaccessible or uneconomic. It is forecast that U.S. shale gas production could reach 35 trillion cubic feet in 2050, up from 1.77 trillion cubic feet in 2000.

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  • Leading countries in installed renewable energy capacity worldwide in 2023 (in gigawatts)
    Mar 27, 2024

    The leading countries for installed renewable energy in 2023 were China, the U.S., Brazil. China was the leader in renewable energy installations, with a capacity of around 1,453 gigawatts. The U.S., in second place, had a capacity of around 388 gigawatts. Renewable energy is an important step in addressing climate change and mitigating the consequences of this phenomenon. 

    Renewable Energy Capacity

    Renewable power capacity is defined as the maximum generating capacity of installations that use renewable sources to generate electricity. Recent data suggests that renewable energy as a share of the world’s power production is increasing. Renewable energy consumption varies from country to country. The top countries for renewable energy consumption are China, United States, and Brazil, respectively.

    Types of Renewable Energy

    There are various types of renewable energy sources used globally including, bioenergy, solar energy, hydropower, and geothermal energy, to name a few. Globally, China and Canada are the top two countries in terms of generating the most energy through hydropower. Geothermal energy has been on the rise as well. Data shows an increase in geothermal energy capacity globally in the last 10 years . Likewise, there has been a dramatic increase in the capacity of global solar energy in recent years.

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  • Electronic waste generated worldwide from 2010 to 2022 (in million metric tons)
    Mar 19, 2024

    E-waste generation worldwide has nearly doubled since 2010, from 33.8 million metric tons to roughly 62 million tons in 2022. Electronic waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams, with global e-waste generation projected to reach 82 million metric tons by 2030.

    What makes up electronic waste? In 2022, small equipment, such as vacuum cleaners, microwaves, toasters, and electric kettles made up the largest share of global electronic waste generation, at more than 20.4 million metric tons. Another 15 million metric tons of large equipment waste was also generated that year. Although still accounting for less than one percent of e-waste generated worldwide, the growth in solar PV capacity worldwide has seen photovoltaic panels as a growing waste stream.

    Where is electronic waste generated? China is by far the largest e-waste generating country worldwide, with more than 12 million metric tons generated in 2022. In fact, Asia accounted for nearly half of all e-waste generated that year. Nevertheless, when it comes to e-waste generation per capita, four of the top five countries were located in Europe, with Norway leading the ranking at 26.8 kilograms per inhabitant.

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  • Exports of plastic waste worldwide in 2023, by leading country (in 1,000 metric tons)
    Jun 26, 2024

    In 2023, Germany was the world's largest plastic waste exporter, with shipments totaling over 693 thousand metric tons. The UK ranked second that year, with exports amounting to some 615 thousand tons. Seven out of the top 10 plastic exporters that year were located in Europe.

    Trends in plastic waste exports

    In 2022, global plastic exports were estimated at some four million metric tons, the lowest figure recorded in over a decade. Exports have decreased significantly in the past decade, from more than 15 million metric tons in 2010. This was a result of stricter regulations on the quality of waste allowed to be exported and the imposition of a series of import bans across the world - the latter mainly in Asian countries who historically received the bulk of global plastic waste exports.

    Where does plastic waste end up?

    Nowadays, plastic waste flows are mostly intraregional. Since China’s ban on plastic waste imports in 2018, Turkey has emerged as the leading destination for plastic waste exports form the European Union, receiving some 315 thousand metric tons in 2023. Meanwhile, plastic waste exports from Japan – the third largest exporter worldwide - were mainly directed to Malaysia and Vietnam. Globally, the Netherlands and Turkey were the largest plastic waste importers in 2023.

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  • Capacity of operational large-scale carbon capture and storage facilities worldwide as of 2023 (in million metric tons per year)
    Nov 23, 2023

    The Alberta Carbon Trunk Line (ACTL) in Canada had the largest carbon capture and storage capacity of all operational CCS facilities worldwide as of July 2023, at 14.6 million metric tons per year (Mtpa).

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  • Average selling price of carbon dioxide removals (CDR) worldwide in 2022 and 2023, by method (in U.S. dollars per metric ton of CO₂ removal)
    Mar 5, 2024

    The average selling price of a metric ton of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) varies greatly by method. In 2023, the average price for CDR by Direct Ocean Removal (DOC) was roughly 1,402 U.S. dollars per metric ton, a 42 percent increase from the previous year. In comparison, the average price for Direct Air Capture (DAC) fell by almost 43 percent in 2023, to 715 U.S. dollars per metric ton of carbon removal. 

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  • Clean waters score in Europe as of 2023, by select country
    Dec 31, 2023

    Iceland has the cleanest waters across Europe, having received an index score of 86.07 points in 2023. Other European countries with scores above 80 points that year were Finland and Slovenia. Outside of Europe, Canada held a score of 88.75 points, topping the list of the cleanest waters worldwide.

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Industry definition

Statista presents the most relevant dossiers, topic pages, and statistics relating to energy and environmental topics. In the Energy segment, the largest energy sources – fossil fuels, nuclear, renewables, and electricity – are covered in depth. In the Environment segment, the focus lies on carbon emissions, climate and weather patterns, environmental technology, and waste and water management on international, and country levels.

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