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2010 Update on Oil Consumption and CO2 Levels?

January 15th, 2011 · No Comments

The worst global economic recession in since the Great Depression seems to be abating. Given the severity of the financial crisis, it might serve to review what impact the recession has had on oil consumption. In addition, what impact did the decline in oil consumption have on atmospheric CO2 concentration levels?

Since 2006, global oil consumption declined by 1.1 million barrels per day (BPD) from 85.2 in 2006 to 84.0 in 2009. Oil consumption in the US declined 9% to 18.8 million from 20.7 million BPD in 2006. Europe experienced a decline of 7% over this same period with a drop of 16.5 million to 15.2 million BPD. However, over this same period, oil consumption in China and India increased 16% and 13%, respectively. This data was complied from the US Department of Energy Information Administration (EIA) and is displayed in the following charts.

To measure how significant the impact has been, the following charts provide some insights in evaluating how deteriorating world economies may have impacted oil consumption and secondly, whether reduced oil consumption has mitigated heightened CO2 levels.

Figure 1 Global Oil Consumption Global Oil
Source: EIA

From Figure 1, the impact of the global financial crisis is depicted with the decline in global oil consumption. When a comparison is applied to oil consumption between the US China, and India, the relative drop in oil consumption is less discernable.

Figure 2 US, China, and India US China & India
Source: EIA

Figure 2 provides a summary of oil consumption of the US, China, and India. A measurable decline in oil consumption can be seen, but only in the US market.

Figure 3 China and India China and India
Source: EIA

Figure 3 demonstrates the steady and pronounced growth in oil consumption for China and India. Despite the global financial crisis, oil consumption significantly expands in China and India due to secular growth from rapid industrialization in both countries. When measured with respect to the European market, China and India have grown from 15% of the oil consumption rate of Europe in 1980 to over 74% of the consumption level in 2010.

Figure 4 CO2 Levels CO2
Source: NOAA

With the decline in global oil consumption, perhaps a positive benefit would be a fall in CO2 levels. The atmospheric CO2 readings in part per million (PPM) where taken from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from the Mauna Loa CO2 Levels monthly measurements. Figure 4 illustrates the average annual atmospheric CO2 concentration readings in Mauna Loa, Hawaii from 1980 through 2010.

The bottom line is even while global oil consumption declined during the recession, growth in China and India remained unabated and subsequently, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere continue at elevated levels.

In memory of Jamie Kotula – loved by family, friends, teammates, and school.

Tags: Alternative Energy · Carbon and Climate · Carbon Economics · Carbon Emissions · Carbon Footprint · CO2 Emissions · Energy Costs · Energy Economics · Fuel Efficiency · Global Warming · Hydrocarbon Fuels · Oil Energy · Oil Independence · Peak Oil