The influence of fossil fuel reserves on energy intensity of transport
Although there are signs of decoupling between road freight and passenger transport and economic growth in some rich countries, the link is still strong for most countries. Indeed, road transport enables people and merchandise mobility, essential to economic growth. This is shown in the following graph where we plot the total final energy consumption for road transport per capita (which is a proxy for road transport demand) against the GDP per capita. There are three highlighted areas: (1) in green, the area corresponds to rich European countries (Norway, Switzerland, France, etc.), (2) in red we highlight rich oil-producing countries (USA, Canada, Qatar, etc.) and (3) in blue still developing oil producing countries (Iraq, Saudi Arabia).
Total final energy consumption of road transport versus GDP per capita
Here, we highlight a specific feature of oil-producing countries. While some European countries have plateaued in their energy consumption, this limit seems higher for oil-producing countries, raising the question of energy efficiency to transport in these countries. This may be related to the price of fossil fuel, as it is way higher in countries from the green circle, mainly due to taxes. Moreover, developing countries with large oil reserve also show quicker growth in energy consumption for transport compared to their peers. Of course, oil reserves are not the only features influencing road transport demand. Other factors range from revenue per capita to road density and population density. Nevertheless, it certainly affects the energy intensity of transport and it is an interesting feature to look when analyzing trends in transport demand and GHG emissions resulting from it.
Ruben Haalebos, Analyst, Data Science Dept.
Sources: Enerdata, World Bank