28 November 2022

Over half of all fossil fuels are extracted by just seven countries, as world heads to 3°C of warming

Shane White from www.worldenergydata.org has put together three very useful charts breaking down coal, oil and gas extraction by nation. 


And the bottom line? The charts show that in 2021, just over half of all fossil fuels was extracted by just seven countries:

  • China
  • USA
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Russia
  • Canada
  • Iraq, and  
  • Iran.

At a glance:

  • Coal: China alone accounted for just over half of total world coal production in 2021, and 11 countries produced 1% or more accounting for 93.7%.
  • Oil: Five countries accounted for just over half (US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Canada and Iraq). 19 countries produced 1% or more accounting for 87.8% of 2021 world total oil production.
  • Gas: Four countries produced just over half (US, Russia, Iran and China). 18 countries produced 1% or more accounting for 84.4% of 2021 world total gas production.


It should also be noted that not all fossil fuel extracted is combusted. A small proportion is sued as feedstock for manufacturing processes.

For more charts and analysis of global energy use, go to worldenergydata.org/world-primary-energy.

The latest International Energy Agency projections show that global carbon emissions from energy will peak in 2025 (assuming the implementation of Nationally Determined Ccontributions including "conditional elements" under the Paris Agreement) , but are likely to plateau after that for a decade, rather than decline in any significant manner.  “Global coal use and emissions have essentially plateaued at a high level, with no definitive signs of an imminent reduction,” it concluded.


This reflects the evidence that new renewable energy capacity is not making significant inroads into the quantity of emissions from fossil-fuel based energy systems, but is providing around the amount of energy required to cover the extra demand due to economic growth. As atmospheric levels of all three greenhouse gases hit record highs, what does this mean for future warming and the Paris Agreement commitments? 

The warming trend will reach 1.5°C around 2030, irrespective of any emission reduction initiatives taken in the meantime. This is because short-term warming short-term warming is largely determined by past emissions, and the inertia in the energy and political systems. 

Alan Kohler writes that: “Keeping warming to 1.5 degrees now looks impossible, and according to [Prof.] David Karoly, one of Australia’s leading climate scientists, there’s an 80 per cent chance of 2 degrees, while 3 degrees is 50/50.” The UN Environment Program also says there is no longer a credible path to holding warming below 1.5°C in the short term.

Keeping warming to 2°C means in general terms having to halve emissions each decade from 2020 to 2050, known as the “carbon law”.  But emissions and greenhouse gas levels are still rising, and the 2°C target will be missed by a significant margin. The 2°C is likely before 2050 even with higher-ambition emission reductions. 

When all system feedbacks are assessed, current emission-reduction commitments will lead to around 3°C of warming, which US security analysts conclude may result in a world of “outright chaos”. And six in ten climate scientists surveyed by Nature journal say that they expect the world to warm by at least 3°C by the end of the century.