Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Following up on yesterday's post of global oil production per capita, the above graph shows oil consumption per capita for an illustrative selection of countries around the world (along with the world line in black for comparison). You can see that the developed countries all had peak consumption in the 1970s, fell in the early 1980s, then were flat for a while and began declining again. In Europe, that second decline began in the mid 90s and has been gradual. In the US it started in 2005 and has been rather abrupt.
Things are never going to be quite the same again:
At least not in the US. In Saudi Arabia, they are apparently having tons of fun with consumption having shot up to a staggering 40 barrels/person/year in the last decade. Iran too has experienced sharp growth in consumption, albeit from a lower level. Though I imagine the beach parties aren't quite the same when the girls have to wear burqas.
To see the developing countries more clearly here's the same data with the y-axis blown up:
India, China, and Brazil have all been growing their per-capita consumption rapidly in recent years, unlike the West. China and India still have considerable distance to go before reaching the world average, however.
Broadly speaking then, the developed countries have been cutting per-capita oil consumption and will be doing so further, in order to make room for consumption in the more rapidly growing economies of the developing world. There are two ways for these cuts in consumption to happen: use oil more efficiently in the economy, or have less economy. Since 2005, in the US, we are mainly taking the second approach.