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Climate and Energy Charts and Figures

With U.S. President Obama heading to China this week, we highlight graphics from the ChinaFAQs website and the World Resources Institute’s recent publication “China, the United States, and the Climate Change Challenge”. Depending on your subscription preferences, charts and figures in this digest may or may not originate from these sources.

Read the ChinaFAQs press release.

Growth in Total Wind Capacity in China and the United States, 1998-2008
China is spending heavily to develop climate friendlier alternatives to coal, including nuclear, hydroelectric, solar and wind power. In the last few years alone, for instance, China has doubled its construction of wind turbines, and now has 10% of the world’s total.

Data Sources: BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2009 and IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2008.

Download Figure | Data and Citation

Average Coal-Fired Power Plant Fleet Efficiency in China and the United States, 1949 to 2006
Improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon intensity in the power sector have been major goals for the Chinese government. This trend contrasts with the United States, where new coal-fired power plants built in the 1980s and 1990s were actually less efficient than those built in the 1970s. While China is still increasing its overall electricity output at a rapid rate – slightly more than one power plant per week – new power plants both add to capacity and replace less efficient, smaller power plants and direct (and very dirty) coal-burning at industrial sites.

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Energy Consumption by Sector in 2007: China, India, Japan, Russia, EU-27, and the United States
China’s energy mix is unusually tilted toward industrial uses, and thus improvements in the industrial sector have large overall impacts.

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International Comparison of GHG Emissions by Sector in 2005
Since nearly three quarters of China’s GHG emissions result from the combustion of fossil fuels for energy, new Chinese energy policies will have a profound impact on China’s contribution to global warming. While China has traditionally avoided policies that explicitly target GHG emissions, its energy and forestry programs have provided the framework for its National Climate Change Program.

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Top Ten Coal Consuming Countries in 2008
Currently, about 83% of China’s electricity is produced by burning coal, and coal is expected to become an even more important source of electricity in the near future. In 2008, China burned more than double the amount of coal used in the United States, the world’s second largest consumer. China’s coal consumption is expected to grow as it moves to meet surging demand for electricity from industry and consumers.

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Per Capita Emissions of Top Ten Global CO2 Emitters in 2006
In the last few years, China has become the world’s leading source of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, and its emissions are growing rapidly. China now produces about one-fifth of annual global carbon dioxide emissions, just ahead of the United States. China’s per capita emissions, however, are just one-quarter of U.S. levels due to its relatively large population and high rate of poverty. In 2006, for instance, the average American produced approximately 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide; the average Chinese produced just 5 metric tons.

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Comparing China and U.S. GHG Emissions in 2005
The single largest source of China’s greenhouse gas emissions is the burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas — for electricity, heat and transport. Coal is by far China’s most important fossil fuel, and some 80% of its total carbon dioxide emissions from energy sources are related to the use of coal. The other major sources of China’s greenhouse gas emissions are agriculture (roughly 15%), industrial processes (9%), and waste (2%).

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