BP Global Data Report Shows Fossil Fuel Use Surging, Renewables Falling Behind
Global fossil fuel use is continuing its rapid increase, and renewable energy development “has not only failed to halt the explosive rise in fossil carbon burning, it’s falling ever-further behind,” National Observer data analyst Barry Saxifrage reported late last month, based on data in the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy.
In a series of 10 charts based on the BP data that “illustrate humanity’s high-octane acceleration off the climate cliff”, Saxifrage concluded that fossil energy consumption is still increasing year by year, half of the world’s cumulative fossil fuel use has happened since 1990, and fossil burning is increasing at four times the rate as renewable and nuclear energy.
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“It’s no wonder millions of children around the world are growing afraid of what the adults are doing to their future and have started school striking to try to save themselves. Or that extinction rebellions, birth strikes, and climate despair are emerging,” he stated.
“In fact, more than 80% of all fossil fuel burning has occurred during the lifetime of the baby boomer generation. That’s my generation. We got to enjoy the amazing benefits a stable climate provides,” but “instead of safeguarding this heritage to pass along to future generations, we’ve set it on fire.”
One of the great hopes has been that the rise of renewable and even nuclear energy would drive down demand for fossil fuels. “Climate-safe energy did indeed increase significantly since 1990,” Saxifrage wrote. “But humans increased fossil fuel burning four times more.” The net result is that “climate-damaging energy use is not just rising. It is pulling away from the climate-safe alternatives.” Another chart showed global fossil fuel burning on the rise in all but one of the last 28 years—the exception was 2009, when the last economic crash was in full flight.
“For a few years after this, the annual increases in fossil burning were getting smaller,” Saxifrage noted. “Hope flickered briefly that the fossil burn might stop increasing. Adding to this hope was the global Paris Climate Agreement in late 2015, in which the entire world promised to increase climate ambition.”
But “as soon as the ink dried on the agreement, the world reversed course and started increasing the increases in fossil fuel burning. And last year, humanity’s sprint away from climate safety accelerated yet again, as the global fossil burn jumped to fill two-thirds of new energy demand.”
Saxifrage’s charts showed Saudi Arabia, followed by Canada and the United States, with the world’s highest per capita fossil fuel use, with India, Indonesia, and Brazil consuming the least. “Back in 1990, Canadians burned much less than Americans, per person,” he observed. “Now, we burn more than they do.”
China showed by far the greatest increase in fossil fuel burn since 1990. But Canada is still on track to burn a record 219 million tonnes of oil or equivalent in 2020, up from 162 in the early 1990s and just 88 in 1965. Between 1990 and 2019, fossil fuel burning increased 35% in Canada and 14% in the U.S., while declining 13% across the EU and 23% in the United Kingdom.