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Which Countries Are Most Reliant on Coal?

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Which Countries Are Most Reliant on Coal?

This was originally posted on Elements. Sign up to the free mailing list to get beautiful visualizations on real assets and resource megatrends each week.

Global energy policies and discussions in recent years have been focused on the importance of decarbonizing the energy system in the transition to net zero.

However, despite efforts to reduce carbon emissions, fossil fuels still account for more than 80% of primary energy use globally—and coal, the world’s most affordable energy fuel, is also the largest source of energy-related CO2 emissions.

The graphic above uses data from the Statistical Review of World Energy to show how much select countries rely on fossil fuels, particularly coal.

Coal’s Importance in Emerging Economies

Coal is the largest source of electricity generation and the primary fuel for iron, steel, and cement production, making it central to climate and energy discussions.

The fossil fuel continues to be an affordable and abundant source of energy, particularly in emerging economies where demand is expanding rapidly.

South Africa is the world’s most coal-dependent nation featured in the statistical review, with coal accounting for 69% of its primary energy consumption in 2022.

Primary energy use, by fuel type (2022)
CountryCoal %Oil %Gas %Other %
🇿🇦 South Africa69%22%3%6%
🇨🇳 China55%18%8%18%
🇮🇳 India55%27%6%11%
🇮🇩 Indonesia45%31%14%10%
🇻🇳 Vietnam45%22%6%27%
🇵🇱 Poland 42%34%15%9%
🇵🇭 Philippines40%42%5%13%
🇯🇵 Japan27%37%20%15%
🇦🇺 Australia26%35%25%14%
🇹🇷 Türkiye25%30%26%19%
🇰🇷 South Korea23%43%17%17%
🇺🇦 Ukraine22%17%30%31%
🇲🇾 Malaysia19%36%37%8%
🇩🇪 Germany19%35%23%23%
🇹🇭 Thailand14%47%32%7%
🇷🇺 Russia 11%24%51%14%
🇺🇸 U.S.10%38%33%19%
🇮🇹 Italy5%40%38%16%
🇬🇧 United Kingdom3%36%35%25%
🇫🇷 France2%35%16%46%

Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding. Select countries shown above.

In 2022, global consumption of coal surpassed 8 billion tonnes in a single year for the first time, with China and India being the two biggest consumers in absolute terms.

China’s power sector alone accounts for one-third of global coal consumption. Meanwhile, with a growth rate of 6% annually, India has doubled its coal consumption since 2007—and is expected to lead the growth in coal consumption for years to come.

Coal Demand in Developed Countries

U.S. consumption of coal has dropped almost 50% compared to the early 2010s.

With initiatives like the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes nearly $370 billion to accelerate the U.S.’s energy transition, coal consumption is expected to remain on a downward trajectory in the United States.

Source: BP Energy Outlook 2023. The forecast is based on BP’s scenario for global net-zero emissions by 2050.

The same movement is seen in the European Union.

France, for example, only has 2.5% of its primary energy consumption coming from coal, a share that is just half of what it was in the early 2000s.

In Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, coal still accounts for 18.9% of total energy consumption (a small increase over 2021, due to the energy crisis). However, a decade ago in 2012, that number stood even higher at 24.9% of primary energy use.

With coal consumption falling in developed nations but remaining steady in emerging economies, the International Energy Agency projects that coal demand will plateau at 2022 levels until 2025 when it will begin to fall.

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Ranked: Top 20 Countries by Plastic Waste per Capita

Visualizing plastic waste per capita reveals a surprising list of countries that you may not have expected.

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Ranked: Top 20 Countries by Plastic Waste per Capita

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Single-use plastic waste is perhaps one of the biggest environmental issues of our time. Every year, millions of tons of plastic end up in oceans and landfills, harming wildlife and ecosystems.

To make matters worse, plastics take hundreds of years to decompose, leading to long-term environmental and health hazards as they break down into microplastics that contaminate water and food sources.

In this graphic, we visualized the top 20 countries that generated the most single-use plastic waste per capita in 2019, measured in kilograms per person. Figures come from research published in May 2021, which we sourced from Statista.

Data and Key Takeaways

The data we used to create this graphic is listed in the table below.

RankCountryKg per personPounds per person
1🇸🇬 Singapore76168
2🇦🇺 Australia59130
3🇴🇲 Oman56123
4🇳🇱 Netherlands55121
5🇧🇪 Belgium55121
6🇮🇱 Israel55121
7🇭🇰 Hong Kong55121
8🇨🇭 Switzerland53117
9🇺🇸 U.S.53117
10🇦🇪 UAE52115
11🇨🇱 Chile51112
12🇰🇷 S. Korea4497
13🇬🇧 UK4497
14🇰🇼 Kuwait4088
15🇳🇿 New Zealand3986
16🇮🇪 Ireland3986
17🇫🇮 Finland3884
18🇯🇵 Japan3782
19🇫🇷 France3679
20🇸🇮 Slovenia3577

Countries from all around the world are present in this ranking, highlighting how plastic waste isn’t concentrated in any one region.

It’s also interesting to note how most of the countries in this top 20 ranking are wealthier, more developed nations. These nations have higher levels of consumption, with greater access to packaged goods, take-out services, and disposable products, all of which rely on single-use plastics.

Where’s China and India?

Note that we’ve visualized plastic waste per capita, which is different from the total amount of waste produced by a country. It is for this reason that major polluters, such as China and India, are not present in this ranking.

It’s also worth noting that this focuses on the demand side of plastics, rather than where plastic products were initially created or produced.

If you’re interested to see more visuals on plastic waste, check out Which Countries Pollute the Most Ocean Plastic Waste?.

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