Carbon Intensity of GDP

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About ... Carbon Intensity of GDP

Zeynep Kahraman, TSP team


Carbon intensity is a measure of how much carbon economies emit for every dollar of GDP they produce. It is an alternative way of identifying the most emitting countries.

International data for carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of energy include emissions due to the consumption of petroleum, natural gas, and coal, and also from natural gas flaring. This graph presents the amount of carbon dioxide emissions emitted in particular countries or regions from energy consumption. Carbon dioxide emissions are calculated for each individual fuel, with some refinements that are detailed in EIA’s website, by applying carbon emission coefficients - or million metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted per quadrillion Btu of fuel consumed - to international consumption and flaring data.

Data Source:

CO2 Emissions from Energy Consumption:

US EIA Historical Statistics for 1980-2013

 U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Statistics, Go to EIA database data accessed 5th of August 2014.

GDP by Type of Expenditure at constant (2005) prices and GDP by Purchasing Power Parities at constant (2005) prices:  

- World Development Indicators for 1980-2013

World Bank, World Development Indicators,Go to World Bank database, data accessed May 2014.

Context and definitions

International data for carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of energy do not include emissions from geothermal power generation, cement production and other industrial process, or municipal solid waste combustion.



I am having difficulty reconciling current global data with the carbon intensity plots. For example, the current global carbon intensity is about 445 MtCO2 per $T of gdp (IEA data). The plot shows about 75 MtCO2 per $T. The difference is about a factor of 6 so I don;t think it is a units conversion problem. How do I reconcile these two numbers?

Thank you,

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