When most people flip a light switch, they do not think about where that power comes from. This map, courtesy of Shrink That Footprint, shows how electricity is generated in over 40 countries around the world.
(Click here to zoom in.)
The orginal purpose of the map is to show where electric car charging ends up using the most low-carbon electricity, and the data reflect that. Each country has a number attached to it, which is the number of grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilometer. This means how much CO2 is emitted per kilometer traveled. It takes into account vehicle manufacturing carbon emissions as well, though that number is held constant in each country.
It can also show fairly quickly which countries use a lot of carbon to produce electricity and which ones use little by comparison.
According to this map, the winners with the lowest numbers are Iceland, Paraguay, Uruguay, Norway, Sweden, France, and Switzerland. Some countries are slightly better, classified as “fossil light” — Canada, New Zealand, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Russia, Spain, and much of Eastern Europe.
The worst countries with the most carbon-intensive fuel mixes are, unfortunately, a lot of high-population countries with high coal and oil consumption. India leads this pack, with 370 grams CO2 equivalent per kilometer. South Africa, Australia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, China, Greece, and Estonia.
The middle of the pack includes the United States, Mexico, Pakistan, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Philippines, and most of the rest of Europe.
The best numbers the map’s makers were able to use come from 2009, so given much of Europe’s rapid adoption of renewable energy since then, those numbers are likely to improve as newer data become available.
The data in this map come from a report that came out earlier this year called “Shades of Green,” also by Shrink That Footprint.