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What is the current breakdown of global energy uses?

The three main areas of energy uses are Industry, Transport and Residential. 

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Residential energy is used to keep rooms at a comfortable temperature, illuminate our spaces, heat water for bathing and laundry, and supply computers, copiers, appliances, and other technologies with the necessary power. 

However, today, these processes are extremely inefficient with plenty of scope for people to reduce their residential energy footprint. 

In general, developed countries use more natural gas and electricity for their residential needs, whereas developing countries use more biofuels.

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IEA, Shares of residential energy consumption by end use in selected IEA countries, 2018, IEA, Paris

Energy for transportation is broken down into road, rail, shipping and air, with road being the predominant sector. 


Over 91% of transportation energy comes from fossil fuels today. In addition to harmful carbon dioxide pollution, transportation is responsible for the production of Nitrous Oxides, Sulphur Dioxides and particulate matter in concentrations very harmful to public health in cities. 


Significant investment is being made to electrify transportation; however, we must be mindful of the source of electricity generation because this could be met with an increase in coal production which would negate the potential positive pollution benefits. 

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IEA, Energy consumption in transport in IEA countries, 2018, IEA, Paris

Industrial Energy Use is what allows industries to extract resources and produce goods. Energy for industrial purposes is broken down as shown in the graph on the right. 


Source: US Energy Information​ Administration, Annual Energy Outlook 2020. 

The infographic on the right shows a range of sectors and processes contributing to global emissions. The complexities this illuminates shows there is no single or simple solution to tackle climate change - there is no silver bullet. Focussing solely on transport (like the electrification of cars) or energy efficiency in industry, for example, would not adequately address the problem of climate change. And global changes we need global collaboration and global policies.

The infographic also shows how some sectors produce more greenhouse gases than others. For example, around 20% of energy is used for residential purposes; however, residential buildings only account for 10.9% of GHG emissions. By working out which sectors produce the most GHGs, we can effectively allocate our resources for the greatest impact. 


Source: Our World in Data

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