In his recent Emissions Reduction, Renewables and Recession post Euan Mearns made the following statement: “In terms of CO2 reduction (i.e. lack of it), Poland, Norway and Germany are the dirty men of Europe.” As we shall see Euan’s claim is broadly correct, but the success a country has had or not had in reducing its CO2 emissions is only one of a number of indicators that can be used to gauge its carbon dirtiness (or cleanliness). Here I combine five different ones to rank 26 European countries by carbon cleanliness/dirtiness in order to obtain a more broad-based perspective as to who the dirty men of Europe really are.
Some information on data sources and adjustments before proceeding. The CO2 emissions and energy consumption data I used are the 2014 values given in the 2015 BP Statistical Review, which include emissions from coal, oil and gas only, plus IMF population and World Bank GDP data. However, to make sure that the results were based on energy consumption in each country I made two adjustments:
- In countries that are net oil & gas exporters (Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Russia) the CO2 emissions generated during production of exported oil & gas are included in national emissions totals. These emissions are not related to national consumption, so I removed them by subtracting 55kg of CO2 from each ton of oil equivalent exported (number from Statistics Norway). This makes less than two percent difference to emissions from Denmark (minus 0.1 million tons CO2), the Netherlands (minus 1.2 million) and Russia (minus 29.6 million) but reduces Norway’s 2014 emissions by 9.3 million tons, or about 20%.
- Having removed the emissions it becomes necessary to remove the exports. I did this by subtracting the value of its oil and gas exports from each country’s GDP ($4 billion from Denmark, $13 billion from the Netherlands, $100 billion from Norway and $350 billion from Russia, data from various sources). This reduced Norway’s GDP by 25%, Russia’s by 19% but Denmark’s and the Netherlands’ by less than 2%.
Now to the results:
Indicator 1: Per-capita CO2 emissions
This is probably the most commonly-used metric, with a country with low per-capita CO2 emissions scoring higher than a country with high per-capita CO2 emissions. Figure 1 shows per-capita emissions calculated by dividing BP’s 2014 CO2 emissions by the populations given by the IMF:
Figure 1: Country rankings, per-capita CO2 emissions
Romania wins and the Netherlands comes last. Among the larger countries France and Italy do well and Germany and Russia do not. The UK comes mid-pack.
Indicator 2: Tons CO2 emitted per ton of oil equivalent (TOE) consumed
This is a measure of a country’s “carbon intensity”, with countries that emit less CO2 in consuming a specified amount of energy scoring higher than countries that emit more. The results are shown in Figure 2:
Figure 2: Country rankings, tons CO2 emitted per ton of oil equivalent consumed
Now Norway moves into first place, followed by Sweden and with Poland bringing up the rear. France again does well and Russia moves into the middle. The UK slips a little but still edges Germany.
Indicator 3: Dollars of GDP per ton of CO2 emitted:
Reducing CO2 emissions requires money, so the amount of wealth generated per ton of CO2 emitted is another applicable indicator. Figure 3 shows the results obtained by dividing nominal GDP by CO2 emissions:
Figure 3: Country rankings, dollars of GDP (nominal) per ton of CO2 emitted
Switzerland wins this category easily, France continues to do well, UK moves into the top eight, Germany makes it to mid-pack and Russia sinks back. The bottom of the list is in fact made up entirely of former East Bloc countries, with Ukraine firmly in last place.
Indicator 4: Dollars of GDP per TOE of energy consumed
CO2 emissions can be skewed by conditions beyond a country’s control, particularly by the availability or otherwise of hydro resources. Dollars per ton of total energy consumed (again given in tons of oil equivalent) is a better measure of the overall efficiency of a country’s energy use. Figure 4 shows the rankings for this indicator:
Figure 4: Country rankings, dollars of GDP (nominal) per ton of oil equivalent consumed
Nothing much changes at the bottom of the rankings relative to Figure 3 but a good deal of shuffling goes on at the top. Switzerland easily retains first place but Norway drops from second to seventeenth – an example of how abundant hydro can reduce a country’s CO2 emissions even though its overall energy use may not be very efficient. Sweden falls from third to ninth and Finland and France both lose three places. Germany, however, gains five, and the UK, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands three each.
Indicator 5: percent change in CO2 emissions 2005-2014
The amount by which a country has reduced its CO2 emissions is widely regarded as being the key indicator of how dedicated it is to the task of saving the world from the ravages of climate change, but it’s actually not very diagnostic. It discriminates against countries that already have high percentages of hydro, nuclear and/or firewood, percentage reductions can vary substantially depending on which stop-start years are chosen (I chose 2005 as the start year because that’s when the Kyoto Protocol came into force), economic downturns can have and have had a major impact and bizarre CO2 emissions caps (some East Bloc countries can double their emissions and still come in under their Kyoto targets) have also had a distorting influence. But here are the results anyway:
Figure 5: Country rankings, percent change in CO2 emissions 2005-2014
Coming out of nowhere to claim the gold in this category is Hungary, followed by Italy, and with the other four PIIGS countries also in the top ten. The UK is back in mid-pack along with France, Finland and Ireland. Germany and Russia are once more close to the bottom.
And Euan was right. Using this indicator and ignoring Russia and Belarus, Germany, Poland and Norway are indeed the dirty men of Europe.
Above we have ranked 26 European countries for carbon cleanliness/dirtiness using five admittedly imperfect indicators, but by combining them we can hopefully smooth out the worst of the distortions and come somewhere close to the truth. Figure 6 shows the final rankings, obtained by normalizing the individual country scores in each category so that the leading country scores one and the others proportionately less and by summing the normalized values. The reader is left to form his or her own judgments:
Figure 6: Final rankings, all 26 countries
Finally, Figure 7 shows the results for the 21 EU countries. Twenty-one is a convenient number because it can be divided into three groups of seven, and I have used these three somewhat arbitrary groupings, depicted in traffic-light colors, to define the clean countries, the dirty countries and those in between:
Figure 7: Final rankings, 21 EU countries
According to these results Sweden is the clean man of the European Union and Poland by far the dirtiest. The inclusion of Belgium, the Netherlands and in particular Germany in with the dirty men is notable. It seems that the Energiewende still has a long way to go.