A nation's wealth, comprising physical, human, and natural assets significantly influences population well-being. Fossil fuels represent a significant portion of this wealth, bringing economic benefits and challenges. While some countries have used this wealth to improve citizens' lives, it doesn't always lead to desirable social outcomes like reduced income inequality or political corruption.
Economic policies impact the volume and nature of energy use and pollutants, including greenhouse gases. Government interventions typically include emissions trading, carbon taxes, and excise taxes. The OECD found that tax and subsidy policies influence GHG emissions and energy consumption globally. Current energy tax policies, however, do not align with GHG reduction goals.
The Social Progress Index (SPI), launched in 2013, assesses a nation's overall socioeconomic health through 60 unique indicators over 12 components. The 2022 index shows stark differences across countries, attributing them to economic disparities, governance, and inclusivity.
Road transport relies heavily on gasoline and diesel, influenced by government policies that often favor diesel for its efficiency. However, diesel produces more pollution, and the tax revenues it generates complicate change. The debate now centers on speeding up the transition to electric transportation to combat greenhouse gas emissions while balancing historical preferences with environmental concerns.
In 2022, the U.S. had 92 nuclear power plants generating 18% of total electricity. The industry, once a major player, declined due to high costs, long construction timelines, decreased demand, accidents, regulations, and market deregulation. There's renewed interest in nuclear power to combat climate change, with the first new plant in 30 years, though debates continue on cost, safety, and alternative energy sources.
As of January 2023, 575 utility-scale biopower plants were operational globally, with a total capacity of over 29,000 MW, less than 0.5% of worldwide power generation. An additional 6,000 MW are under construction. China is believed to significantly underreport its true biopower capacity, perhaps as high as 22,000 MW, primarily from agricultural residues and waste-to-energy facilities. Brazil, another major player, relies largely on sugarcane byproducts.
License: Unless otherwise noted, all visualizations, data, and stories produced by Visualizing Energy are open access under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0). This means that you have permission to copy, transform, and redistribute the material in any medium, provided the source and authors are credited.