fuel consumption by country

Fossil Fuel Consumption By Country: Top 10 List

Jane Marsh - March 22, 2024

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Despite growing calls to engineer a shift toward renewable energy, fossil fuels – oil, coal, and gas – remain the go-to global energy resource year on year. Understanding the rate of fuel consumption by country can help shed some light on the drivers of climate change and underscore the need to take immediate action to offset their global carbon footprint. 

According to the United Nations, fossil fuels account for over 90% of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, leading to global warming. These are the top 10 countries dominating the fuel consumption list.

1. United States 

The U.S. is the largest oil consumer with over 19.1 million barrels per day as of 2022. In the same year, it consumed 32.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, about 1.6 trillion cubic feet more than in 2021. 

With a staggering population of over 334 million, it’s no surprise that the U.S. records high fossil fuel consumption levels. People need petrol for their vehicles and electricity for their homes and businesses. 

As part of its sustainability plan, the U.S. government has set a number of highly ambitious goals, including generating 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

2. China 

China leads the world in coal consumption with an estimated 4.4 billion short tons in 2023. In terms of oil consumption, the country consumed over 14.3 million barrels per day and increased its natural gas consumption by 13% in 2022.

Again, these consumption levels are primarily driven by high population growth. With over 1.4 billion inhabitants spread across its 3.7 million square miles geography, China’s egregious use of fossil fuels is all but expected.

The Chinese government has outlined its plans to cut carbon emissions by 65% over the next six years and reach carbon neutrality by 2060.

3. India 

India is the third-largest global oil consumer, with roughly 4.65 million barrels daily, driven by its booming automotive industry. The country’s gas consumption is up 8.5% year-on-year since April 2023. Coal is also in high demand in India, accounting for 55% of the country’s energy needs, according to the Ministry of Coal. 

Transitioning to clean energy has been a key focus for the Indian government. It recently outlined the goal to meet 50% of electricity demand through renewable energy by 2030. The country has made giant strides in this regard, leveraging wind and solar to make up 92% of capacity additions to its overall power generation in 2022. 

4. Russia 

Russia is one of the most prominent players in the oil market, producing roughly 11.28% of the world’s production in 2021. The country consumed 3.67 million barrels daily in the same year, accounting for 4% of the world’s total consumption. Russia is also one of the largest natural gas consumers, with 408 billion cubic meters consumed in 2022. Although coal plays a significant role in the country’s economy, power usage has decreased since 1990.

President Vladimir Putin announced plans to reduce Russia’s total net greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. These include increased spending on wind farms, solar plants, and small-scale hydropower plants in 2024. 

5. Japan 

With a territory of just over 145,000 square miles, it’s a bit of a surprise that Japan ranks fifth in fossil fuel consumption by country. In 2022, Japan consumed over 151 million metric tons of oil and imported 180.3 million tons of coal. The country also consumed approximately 100 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the same year. 

Despite these figures, Japan is at the forefront of the clean energy transition, focusing on achieving 38% of its energy generation from renewable sources by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2050. 

6. Saudi Arabia 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s largest producers and consumers of oil. In 2022, the country consumed over 166 million metric tons of oil, three times more than the figures in 1990. Saudi Arabia also consumes large amounts of natural gas, with the domestic demand expected to rise 3.7% yearly until 2030. 

Renewable energy is high on the list of targets set by the Saudi government. The country has spent substantial amounts on installed renewable capacity and is on track to achieve its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 278 million tons by 2030. 

7. Brazil 

Brazil’s oil consumption in 2022 stood at roughly 2.51 million barrels per day. Oil is the primary source of energy generation in the Latin American nation. Natural gas consumption has risen in recent years, with around 76.043 million cubic meters used in 2021. As for coal, the country recently passed a law allowing for the use of coal as an energy source until 2040. 

According to the World Economic Forum, Brazil recorded an 8% improvement in its energy transition index as it aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. As of 2023, Brazil accounted for nearly 7% of global renewable energy production. 

8. South Korea

Oil is the primary energy source in Korea, which explains why the country imported 960 million barrels of crude oil in 2021. Korea also imported around 126 million tons of coal in the same year and was the third-largest LNG importer in the world for that period. These figures are hardly surprising, as the country was the seventh-largest global energy consumer in 2022. 

Korea has set a target to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. One of the ways it plans to achieve this is to shift away from coal power consumption, which accounts for 40% of the total energy mix, to LNG and other cleaner energy sources. 

9. Germany 

Germany is a heavy consumer of fossil fuels and was among the first European countries to import natural gas from Russia even after the so-called ban following the Ukraine invasion. In 2022, the country consumed over 2 million barrels of oil per day and 2.3 exajoules of coal.

Despite these, Germany has made significant efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and aims for climate neutrality by 2045. Its energy policy priorities include phasing out coal power generation by 2038 and generating at least 80% of gross electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

10. Canada 

The Great White North heavily depends on oil to power its transportation and industrial sectors. Canada consumed upwards of 98 million metric tons of oil in 2022. The country isn’t shy about coal and gas consumption either, recording usage of 390 petajoules and 101 billion cubic meters, respectively, according to Statista. 

Canada has made a series of efforts to meet its goal of net zero emissions by 2050. It is one of the leading countries leveraging cleaner energy sources such as hydro, wind, and solar for electricity generation. Newer renewable sources like tidal wave energy and biomass are expected to account for 12% of total power generation by 2035. 

Fuel Consumption By Country 

Fossil fuels introduce tons of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere every year. Countries with the highest fuel consumption rates must make concerted efforts to offset their carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.

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About the author

Jane Marsh

Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.