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Capitalist delusion and climate drift - 21

Summary:
1 - Katowice rhymes with “aldrabice” (crookery)
2 - Energy consumption on the planet (2007/17)
3 - The energy consumption capitation
4 - The future Katowices
Annex 1 - The various sources of energy consumption
Annex 2 - The spatial distribution of the various types of energy consumption

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1 – Katowice rhymes with “aldrabice” (crookery)

According to the European Commission, in the period of 1990/2016, the reduction of


greenhouse gases in the EU area was 22%; but GDP growth was 54%, slightly above
2% annually, and the goal is to keep this pace until... 2050! The disparity in the
evolution of emissions and GDP is large and a result of the reduction of industrial
activity in Europe and the USA, in parallel with the fundamental contribution to GDP of
the impact of financial business, which will not be among the most aggressive entities
in the environmental area2. The following graph shows, therefore, that the world GDP
resumed its accelerated growth after the financial crisis, in a much more dynamic
evolution than the one observed for CO2 emissions that have maintained the same
upward and regular pace, which comes from the past; and which results essentially
from other than the European or North American areas, as we shall see in more detail
below.

1
The first part is available at: https://grazia-tanta.blogspot.com/2019/03/capitalist-delusion-and-climate-drift-
1_21.html
2
Large US banks, the ones "too big to fail", distribute 80% of their credits to "investors" in speculation and financial
activities. The cascades of issued securities having at their base agricultural produce, mineral fuels, real estate
credits that since the 90s have shaped so-called derivative products that constitute the great destination of these
credits, according to the BIS - Bank of International Settlements.

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Fonte: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018

More precisely, and in the case of the EU (see figure below), following the change in
greenhouse gas emissions from 5716.4 Mt CO2 equivalent in 1990 to 4451.8 Mt in
2017 (minus 468 Mt / y) the aim is to achieve reductions of... 1935 Mt / y until 2050,
until the zero emission level is reached!

 Are they thinking that all of the industry will leave Europe?

 That public transportation will oust the private car? Or that all of these will be
electric, with all the motive power obtained from renewable sources or imported
from outside Europe? Or that the car traffic limitation, planned for the center of
several European cities, will suffice for this?

 That the heavy lorry traffic on European roads, or of boats in ports, will
substantially slow down?

 That airspace will become less saturated along with a sinking of the tourist
industry? And that there will be mass production of solar-powered aircraft?

 Is it likely that the delocalized emitter activities will keep the generated CO2
concentrated around them, without it spreading throughout the planet in a more
or less uniform way, not distinguishing the territorial spaces of the delocalizing
countries from those that received the harmful activities?

Planning irresponsibly has never been difficult, especially for those who probably will
not see the calendar arrive in 2050. Whoever gets there will take care of the issue...
Brussels bureaucrats might be thinking.

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However, things are more complicated than the above-mentioned EU-envisaged
performance, a forecast aimed at shining at the recent Katowice summit. There is a
historical parallel between energy production and CO2 emissions (see figure below);
and replacing a fossil fuel presentation form for another, always leaves at its base a
CO2 production. One may start to cook on a fire, then move to a stove burning oil, then
to another using gas or electricity, and there will always be a portion of CO2 releaed;
unless the energy comes from a renewable source or from… a nuclear plant.

Fonte: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018

Meanwhile there was a massification of the irrational use of the personal automobile,
the use of the airplane, of long journeys in the logistics chains and the distribution, to
the detriment, for example, of the train; similarly, the use of electrical outlets, batteries
in a multitude of objects and appliances, in industry, in services, in homes, in pockets
or in ears. The bottom line is that only a small portion comes from hydro, solar or wind
power... as will be seen in this text, in Annexes 1 and 2.

The problem of the recycling these batteries and the rarity of the metals used in mobile
phones and the like, crosses with the savagery and crime economy that surrounds
much of its extraction in Africa, the richest continent in those metals. The nuclear
power plants’ fuel, despite them not emitting CO2, requires solutions to radioactive

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waste, which are expensive if they are to be minimally decent; or they can be cheaper,
if it is dumped in some countries, traded for an offshore dump of strong currency, at the
order of the local oligarchs. In addition to the forwarding of waste, one also needs to
consider the devastating, albeit atypical, cases of Chernobyl or Fukushima; this is
despite highly regarded scientists such as Lovelock, considering that nuclear would be
an excellent solution for energy production, since it does not produce greenhouse
effects.

The different phases of capitalist development that coexist in the world correspond to
different levels of energy consumption. In richer countries, capital accumulation and the
availability of technologies allow, on the one hand, to invest in less polluting forms of
energy production; and at the same time to export the most "dirty" industries or to
relocate only segments – or even a whole range – pertaining to a given end product, to
places where labor is cheaper and wage or environmental standards are less
demanding.

In poor countries people do not like to live with shortages of food, health, or education,
with less longevity or in the midst of garbage and pollution; but would like to have the
goods and services that exist in the more developed countries. And, therefore, they
accept to be a mix of beneficiaries and victims of the skewed distribution of capitalist
production, whose main determinants and beneficiaries are the large, profit-hungry
multinationals who delegate to oligarchs and corrupt nationals the role of managers of
their own peoples, treated as cattle.

Following the "export" of rubbish or pollution, the richer countries may present
themselves as more environmentally advanced, with a high level of environmental
refinement and very environmentally friendly; and focus on business areas where
capital turnover is faster and material investment smaller – the financial area and the
demanding services requiring higher qualifications – consulting, advertising, content,
information management... Their bad luck is that there is only one planet, that its
various parcels are integrated through growing and ever more dense interconnections;
with relocation, emissions only change the location on the planet where they occur, and
that does not change anything in planetary terms.

2 – Energy consumption on the planet (2007/17)

The evolution of global energy consumption shows that in ten years its volume
increased by 16.6%; which, though falling short of the growth of the global economy, is
still worryingly high.

However, it highlights two very distinct realities that separate the world into two distinct
blocks. One, consisting of three sets – Europe, North America and the former CIS3 –
where consumption is reduced; and another reality where consumption increases,

3
CIS - Commonwealth of Independent States, an ephemeral structure comprising former Soviet republics.

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comprising the countries of the Middle East, Central and South America, Africa and
Asia-Pacific, according to the classification of countries used by BP – British
Petroleum. There are, of course, within each set, different situations in what concerns
the evolution and size of consumption (see Table I). Another interesting approach
would be to observe the correlation between variations in energy consumption and
variations in income; especially taking into account the impacts of the financial crisis,
which manifested itself in different ways in various latitudes.

Table I
World primary energy consumption (PET millions - petroleum equivalent tonnes)
2007 2017 var 2007 2017 var
World 11588.4 13511.2 16.59 North America 2809.5 2772.9 -1.30
Europe 2041.7 1969,5 -3.54 USA 2320.8 2234.9 -3.70
Germany 331.9 335.1 0.96 Central / South America 587.0 700.6 19.35
Spain 158.6 138.8 -12.48 Brazil 229.6 294.4 28.22
France 260.2 237.9 -8.57 Middle East 618.2 897.2 45.13
GB 223.1 191.3 -14.25 Iran 202.6 275.4 35.93
Italy 183.4 156.0 -14.94 Saudi Arabia 169.0 268.3 58.76
Norway 45.9 47.5 3.49 Africa 346.9 449.5 29.58
Poland 95.7 102.1 6.69 South Africa 116.9 120.6 3.17
Portugal 25.4 26.4 3.94 Asia-Pacific 4195.2 5743.6 36.91
Czech Republic 45.4 41.6 -8.37 China 2150.3 3132.2 45.66
Sweden 54 54.4 0.74 India 450.4 753.7 67.34
Turkey 100.4 157.7 57.07 Japan 524.4 456.4 -12.97
Former CIS* 989.8 978.0 -1.19 South Korea 236.7 295.9 25.01
Russia 673.1 698.3 3.74 * Commonwealth of Independent States
Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018

Among the selected European countries, there are significant decreases in Great-
Britain, Italy and Spain but a strong increase in Turkey showing a trend with a profile
closer to its south neighbors’, in the Middle East. In North America the decline in
consumption is marked by the regional relevance of the United States. In the former
CIS there is a decrease which represents the balance of the increase in Russian
consumption compared with the large reduction in Ukraine (around 40%).

In terms of consumption increases we highlight the cases of Central and South


America, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. In the first case, Brazil stands out. As for
the Middle East, the major oil and gas producing powers are also huge consumers,
especially Saudi Arabia, whose global consumption is close to Iran’s, although with a
population three times smaller. Finally, in Asia-Pacific, there is strong consumer growth
inherent to the region's journey as the main dynamic pole of the global economy; in this
region, two of the most capitalized economies – Japan and South Korea – show
antagonistic directions in the area of energy consumption evolution. Still with regard to
Japan, it is worth noting the 90% decrease in nuclear energy (in addition to oil) as a
result of the Fukushima disaster, partially offset by increased use of gas and the
recourse to renewable energies. India, in the table above, is the country with the
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highest consumption growth; however, their overall consumption is close to a quarter of
the Chinese consumption, although their respective populations are close in numbers.

It should also be noted that China is the world's largest energy consumer and
accounted for about half of the increase in world consumption between 2007 and 2017.
In short, the world is in colors but from the point of view of global energy consumption
and subsequent environmental impact, the tonalities show darkening.

Thus, as the global values show, through the growth of 16.6% of energy consumption
in 2007/17, this increase is a synthesis of several elements, acting in different
directions and with different causes:

 One of these elements applies to countries with a capitalist pattern of


development, that we can call mature. It is the case of a de-industrialization, which
beginning can be traced to the second half of the 1970s, after the great increase in
the oil price; the result thereof is a concentration of economic activity in the
services and finance areas, which generally are less energy-hungry. However, the
density of the exchanges and the popularization of personal mobility in owned
vehicles pull in the opposite direction.

 These changes in the industrial structure – quantitative and qualitative – in the rich
countries corresponded to the relocation of sectors of activity in their entirety, such
as the steel industry or industrial components, for ecological reasons but, above
all, to where environmental damages are less valued, labor prices are lower, labor
standards are less demanding, and political regimes more intractable in the face of
workers' demands.

 In global terms, this relocation does not have major impacts on energy
consumption at the production level, but since the gap between production and
end use greatly increases, it promotes a substantial increase in the use of logistics
and transportation networks, with a consequent increase of harmful emissions.
Thus, in the above table, the reductions observed in rich countries will have to be
devalued, given that they correspond to a part of the increases seen in the
peripheries; there is little change to the global situation.

 Those countries with high or medium incomes went through a decade of


underperformance in their economies, following the financial crisis symbolically
started with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. And that had a natural negative
impact on energy consumption.

 The concern with the impacts of economic and domestic activity on the
environment has developed a lot in the last decades, with measures that focused
on industrial pollution, waste, soil and water contamination, the danger of nuclear,
vehicle emissions, with production of industrial and domestic equipment with lower
consumption. The massification of electric vehicles will last a few decades
because family incomes are conditioned by wage compression and fiscal pressure,

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and, while vehicles continue to consume energy, of whatever kind, it will have to
be produced somewhere.

 Given that the environment is global and does not recognize state boundaries,
transfers from rich countries to the periphery of more energy-consuming economic
activities per product unit, do not admit that mandarins and half-baked ecologists
present themselves as champions of environmental defense aiming at a smaller
environmental impact; the latter is only, globally speaking, transferred to another
place, is false in substance or even increased.

 Many of the new "industrialized" countries, besides the heritage of economic and
social disruption arising from the western colonization, include a set of industrial
patchwork not integrated with each other but rather in the supply chains of
multinational companies; and as incomes are not high, better, they are clearly
below those in the rich countries, there is a lack of resources to avoid poverty, a
more rational use of energy consumption or to produce acceptable environmental
costs.

 In turn, the political classes in the peripheral countries, becoming the agents of
transnational corporations and propagandists of the consumerist models of
Western societies, seek to reconcile the increase of their incomes and staying in
power by raising the living standards of their (growing) populations; a difficult
balance in which the efficiency of energy consumption and the quality of the
environment are hurt.

3 – The energy consumption capitation

The gross energy consumption in each country or set of countries presented in the
previous table becomes more significant if one knows the average value of the per
capita consumption measured in PET. In this context, it is possible to assess the
energy footprint and the differences in its size for several countries (see Table 2.)

PET / hab Table 2


2007 2017 2007 2017
World 1.7 1.8 Turkey 1.4 2.0
Europe 3,4 3.3 Russia 4.7 4.8
Germany 4.1 4.1 USA 7.4 6.9
Spain 3,4 3.0 Brazil 1.2 1.4
France 4.0 3.6 Iran 2.7 3,4
GB 3.5 2.9 Saudi Arabia 6.2 8.3
Italy 3.1 2.6 Africa 0.3 0.4
Norway 9.4 9.0 South Africa 2.2 2.2
Poland 2.5 2.7 China 1.6 2.2
Portugal 2.4 2.5 India 0.4 0.6
Czech Republic 4.3 3.9 Japan 4.1 3.6

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Sweden 5.7 5.6 South Korea 4.7 5.8
Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018

The global consumption per inhabitant indicator has not changed much between the
two years considered but conceals notable differences:

 Among the countries considered and with higher capitalist development, the
indicators are higher than the world average and, for the most part, have a
decreasing penchant.

 Among the EU countries considered the only registered increases in consumption


per capita are in Poland and Portugal.

 The highest per capita consumption cases are observed in Norway and the USA,
in 2007, while the latter is surpassed by Saudi Arabia in 2017, which has a
remarkable growth, as is the case with South Korea.

 China became, in 2017, the largest energy consumer, overtaking the US which
occupied that position ten years earlier. However, the per capita energy
consumption in the country, despite having grown in the decade, is still less than
1/3 of the north-American capitation in 2017.

 The energy consumption per capita in Africa and India are particularly low and,
together, account for about one third of Humanity.

 To sum it up, capitalist development has prompted evident effects on energy


consumption growth. The high capitations of the so-called developed countries (or
the Saudi oil monarchy) tend to be the example to be followed by countries that
want to follow that model of capitalist development. The accelerated entry of vast
regions, mainly from Asia, in that process, leads to local increases in the capitation
of energy consumption, in exchange for the reductions observed in countries with
older capitalist structures that tend to reduce their rates of energy.

 These two trends, of opposite signs, may in the medium term cross each other in
a narrower range, to the extent that new technologies allow sufficiently low costs,
accessible to the large social groups with low incomes of the rich countries and to
the increasing medium levels of the so-called developing countries. What will the
result be?

4 – The future Katowices

More frequent conclaves of the Katowice type where distinguished members of the
national political classes, multinational-emanated-order-holders, meet to present no
more than placebo solutions or topped-up scams, such as the EU proposal mentioned
above, might be invented.

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On the other hand, not everything can be solved by individual attitudes and practices
conducive to a minimum contribution to climate change; it is known, in particular, that
individual practices are heavily marked by the consumerist ideology that presents itself
as the instrument to achieve happiness. Even if, as we saw in the first part of this
article, the main responsibilities for environmental deviation lie with the energy industry
that exploits fossil fuels and its concern to restrain investments that hinder the
distribution of profits to shareholders; an industry that is well inserted into the control
towers of state decisions.

If the cause of Humanity's sufferings and the damage caused to the global environment
is capitalism, in general – and its promoters and beneficiaries in particular – to focus
the combat on its nefarious effects solves little or nothing. It's like trying to wipe the
water that flooded a house, without closing the tap from where it flows.

A global, concerted and united action of the peoples is necessary for it is known that
capitalists and the political classes will do anything to divide humans and suppress all
efforts that affect the production of profits or their privileges. To think otherwise is
similar to expecting to find Santa Claus sitting in the chimney unloading his bag of
presents.

One should raise the question of a change in the way of organization, coexistence and
interrelation between humans; credible or visible results will hardly arise with the
presence of a capitalism going at cruising speed. It is from human coexistence, from
the reformulation of its life goals that the great changes in the paradigms of social
construction will arise. The decrease or the responsible consumption practices, per se,
are only ways of measuring the footprint of the march of capitalism; they can make it
reduce the pace of the march but cannot cause it to fall to the ground.

In this context, it is the whole edifice on which capitalism is based which must be called
into question; it is necessary to move beyond denunciation and not to narrow the action
into compromised solutions packed into undersigned lists sent to the great economic
and political powers, on the assumption that they will change course; actions that, in
fact, do not mobilize anyone beyond an absent-minded signature. Once again the vain
hope of repentance (inserted in the Christian ideology) arises by the hand of the
architects of the constant adaptation of the capitalist system aiming at its sustainability.
In the most sacred of their logic is that of capital accumulation, and they cannot have
any other, because any alternative would be its death; and therefore, of their own
accord, they will never change anything essential.

These pious initiatives can serve as entertainment for many who think they can civilize
the capitalist savagery, sensitizing the political classes’ mandarins, seeking support
among them. This does not happen, especially with powers so much structured and full
of ideological, material and financial means to deceive, to lead, and to repress the
plebs; without the aforementioned rhizomatic network that frames millions of people,
we will not go anywhere.

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Capitalism may face, in an apocalyptic setting, the start of a reduction of the global
population to 600 million people; but cannot admit global conditions as extreme as
social chaos, with popular uprisings in which capitalism itself is thrown out along with
the bath water. For Humanity to avoid this apocalyptic scenario, its only recourse is to
extinguish the current economic paradigm – capitalism – and the present political
model of representation, which we call “market democracy”. Everything else is but
placebos.

Annex 1 – The various sources of energy consumption

The table below shows the world’s primary energy consumption (measured in millions
of PET – petrol equivalent tonnes) broken down for each major energy source for the
years of 2007 and 2017.

 Globally and in the decade ending in 2017, all types of energy consumed have
their overall volume increased except for nuclear power, with strong reductions
in Germany, Italy, in France, and in Asia Pacific. In the latter after the forced
closure of Fukushima.
 In Europe, in general, there is a decrease in the consumption of fossil fuels,
especially in the case of coal, with a particular exception in Turkey.
 The cases of consumption reduction are almost restricted to Europe and North
America and it is not possible to accurately measure what has resulted from
measures aimed at reducing emissions and what has resulted from the
aftermath of the financial crisis.
 In Central and South America, as in Africa or Asia, consumption of fossil fuels
has generally had a significant growth.

 As for hydro electrical and other renewable energies, we highlight their great
progress in the Asia-Pacific region, which presents itself as the leading

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producer of both; especially since oil and natural gas are not very abundant
there.

PETROLEUM NATURAL GAS COAL


2007 2017 var 2007 2017 var 2007 2017 var
World 3939.4 4621.9 17.3 2652.2 3156 19.0 3194.5 3731.5 16.8
Europe 731.2 457.2 296.4
947.5 -1,4 1024.5 -7,14 528.9 -14.27
Former IEC * 203.4 494.1 157.0
Germany 112.5 119.8 6.5 74.6 77.5 3.9 85.7 71.3 -16.8
France 91.3 79.7 -12.7 38.3 38.5 0.5 12.3 9.1 -26.0
Italy 84.0 60.6 -27.9 70.0 62 -11.4 17.2 9.8 -43.0
Spain 78.8 64.8 -17.8 31.6 27.5 -13.0 20.2 13.4 -33.7
Great Britain 79.2 76.3 -3.7 81.8 67.7 -17.2 38.2 9.0 -76.4
Russia 126.2 153 21.2 383.1 365.2 -4.7 93.5 92.3 -1,3
Turkey 30.5 48.8 60.0 31.6 44.4 40.5 31.0 44.6 43.9
North America 1134.5 1108.6 -2,3 739.3 810.7 9.7 614.6 363.8 -40.8
Central/South
260.0 318.8 22.6 124.1 149.1 20.1 22.5 32.7 45.3
America
Middle East 290.1 420.0 44.8 273 461.3 69.0 9.3 8.5 -8.6
Africa 129.9 196.3 51.1 80.3 121.9 51.8 105.7 93.1 -11.9
Asia-Pacific 1177.4 1643.4 39.6 411.2 661.8 60.9 1913.5 2780.0 45.3

NUCLEAR HYDROELECTRIC RENEWABLE


2007 2017 var 2007 2017 var 2017
World 622.5 596.4 -4.2 695.8 918.6 32.0 486.8
Europe 192.5 130.4 161.8
276.4 -6.5 179.6 4.2
Former IEC * 65.9 56.7 0.9
Germany 31.8 17.2 -45.9 4.7 4.5 -4,3 44.8
France 99.6 90.1 -9.5 13.3 11.1 -16.5 9.4
Italy 33.7 -100.0 7.3 8.2 12.3 15.5
Spain 12.5 13.1 4.8 6.0 4.2 -30.0 15.7
UK 11.9 15.9 33.6 0.0 1.3 - 21.0
Russia 36.9 46 24.7 40.4 41.5 2.7 0.3
Turkey 0 0 0.0 8.0 13.2 65.0 6.6
North America 215.4 216.1 0.3 145.6 164.1 12.7 109.5
Central/South
America 4.4 5 13.6 152.6 162.3 6.4 32.6
Middle East 0 1.6 - 5.2 4.5 -13.5 1.4
Africa 3 3.6 20.0 22.1 29.1 31.7 5.5
Asia-Pacific 123.3 111.7 -9.4 190.7 371.6 94.9 175.1
Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018

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Annex 2 –– The spatial distribution of the various types of energy consumption

Breakdown of the main sources of energy consumption


PET Millions PETROLEUM(%) NAT. GAS(%) COAL (%)
2007 2017 2007 2017 2007 2017 2007 2017
World 11104.4 13511.2 35.5 34.2 23.9 23.4 28.8 27.6
Europe 2956.9 1969,5 32.0 37.1 34.6 23.2 17.9 15.0
Former IEC * na 978.0 na 20.8 na 50.5 na 16.1
Germany 309.3 335.1 36.4 35.8 24.1 23.1 27.7 21.3
France 254.8 237.9 35.8 33.5 15.0 16.2 4.8 3.8
Italy 212.2 156.1 39.6 38.8 33.0 39.7 8.1 6.3
Spain 149.1 138.7 52.9 46.7 21.2 19.8 13.5 9.7
Great Britain 211.1 191.2 37.5 39.9 38.7 35.4 18.1 4.7
Russia 680.1 698.3 18.6 21.9 56.3 52.3 13.7 13.2
Turkey 101.1 157.6 30.2 31.0 31.3 28.2 30.7 28.3
North America 2849.4 2772.8 39.8 40.0 25.9 29.2 21.6 13.1
Central/South
America 563.6 700.5 46.1 45.5 22.0 21.3 4.0 4.7
Middle East 577.6 897.3 50.2 46.8 47.3 51.4 1.6 0.9
Africa 341.0 449.5 38.1 43.7 23.5 27.1 31.0 20.7
Asia-Pacific 3816.1 5743.6 30.9 28.6 10.8 11.5 50,1 48.4

NUCLEAR (%) HYDROELECT.(%) RENEW.(%)


2007 2017 2007 2017 2007 2017
World 5.6 4.4 6.3 6.8 na 3.6
Europe 9.3 9.8 6.1 6.6 na 8.2
Former IEC * na 6.7 na 5.8 na 0.1
Germany 10.3 5.1 1.5 1.3 na 13.4
France 39.1 37.9 5.2 4.7 na 4.0
Italy 15.9 0.0 3,4 5.3 na 9.9
Spain 8.4 9.4 4.0 3.0 na 11.3
Great Britain 5.6 8.3 0.0 0.7 na 11.0
Russia 5.4 6.6 5.9 5.9 na 0.0
Turkey 0.0 0.0 7.9 8.4 na 4.2
North America 7.6 7.8 5.1 5.9 na 3.9
America C / Sul 0.8 0.7 27.1 23.2 na 4.7
Middle East 0.0 0.2 0.9 0.5 na 0.2
Africa 0.9 0.8 6.5 6.5 na 1.2
Asia-Pacific 3.2 1.9 5.0 6.5 na 3.0
Source: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2018

 The use of fossil fuels corresponds to more than 85% of the energy
consumption in 2017, with any positive evolution that may have occurred
since 2007 being of little significance.

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 In what regards oil, in a context of slight changes in its overall relative
relevance over the period 2007/17, it should be noted that the increase in
its consumption in Europe and in Africa, with reductions in its role in the
Middle East and Asia-Pacific.

 As for natural gas, there is a sharp drop in its use in Europe, with
significant increases in its share in North America, the Middle East and
Africa.
 Nuclear energy is only relevant in some countries of Europe and North
America.
 Coal, being the most polluting of fossil fuels, has maintained its share in
overall consumption. We highlight the decrease of its use in North
America and Africa and that its main consumption is observed in Asia
Pacific.

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