What is the current breakdown of global energy sources?
As the first graph shows, the majority of the world’s energy still comes from fossil fuels - in 2019, 84% of it.
Low-carbon energy accounted for only 16% – around 11% from renewables and just over 4% from nuclear energy.
Since 3/4 of global greenhouse gases come from energy – the burning of coal, oil and gas –
we need to rapidly transition away from them to low-carbon sources.
The second graph shows the rapid increase of our total energy consumption, especially the growth of the fossil fuels industry since the 1950s. Total energy consumption is closely correlated with global economic growth and the world has powered its development using fossil fuels.
Global energy consumption is still on the rise. In
fact, when we look at data over the past half
century, there are only a handful of years where
energy consumption did not increase – most notably being 2009, the year following the Great Financial Crisis (GFC), and 2020, from the global pandemic.
But the developing world must be afforded the opportunity for economic growth without deepening our climate crisis. Fortunately, renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, have become economically competitive with fossil fuels, allowing developing countries to lead frog old technology.
The third graph shows the current energy mix, clearly highlighting the predominance of fossil fuels: