Tag: GHG

Embodied Emissions of Products in the EU

Embodied emissions (similar to embodied energy) is an interesting perspective on the environmental impact of products we use. It takes into account the full life-cycle of the product and aggregates the emissions produced from raw material extraction, from the actual manufacturing, from the transports along the supply chain, and from the disposal of the product after use.

In many cases ’emissions’ is reduced to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and the impact on climate change caused along the product’s life cycle. In this case we could colloquially also call it the ‘carbon rucksack’ of the product.

Kate Scott from the Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds (UK) in her article ‘Extending European energy efficiency standards to include material use: an analysis’ suggests the European Union should – in addition to its energy efficiency policies – add consideration of material efficiency of products to their climate change strategy. GHGs are considered a lead indicator for material efficiency, as “material-intensive manufactured products … offer significant scope for emissions reductions along product supply chains.

This Sankey diagram of supply chain emissions associated with global product flows of the EU is presented.


Source: Kate Scott, Katy Roelich, Anne Owen & John Barrett (2018) Extending European energy efficiency standards to include material use: an analysis, Climate Policy, 18:5, 627-641, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2017.1333949 distributed under Creative Commons Attribution License.

The diagram doesn’t show much detail as to the individual stream and relies heavily on color coding. Only group sums are shown. Data is for the year 2007. Flows are in Mt (megatonnes) CO2-equivalents embodied as emissions in the products.

“Production emissions in the EU in 2007 were 5,213 MtCO2e, with the width of each flow on the left-hand side of Figure 1 representing production emissions by sector, the conventional accounting approach. In the same year, the EU’s consumption-based emissions, the right-hand side of Figure 1, were 39% higher, at 7,256 Mt due to the EU’s trade balance. Emissions embodied in EU imports were 2,847 Mt and emissions embodied in their exports were 804 Mt, meaning that the EU is a net importer of 2,043 MtCO2e (imports–exports).”

The black streams from the top represent embodied GHG emissions from raw materials, finished products or product components imported into the EU.

Read the full article here.

World GHG Emissions 2012

This “dense” or “block-style” Sankey diagram might look familiar to some. Indeed it is based on the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions Sankey diagram for 2000 published by the World Resources Institute WRI (see this post). Consulting firm Ecofys (now Navigant) has updated the data and refined it, but kept the overall appearance of the figure.


via @ChrisChambers64

Total emissions of climate gases were 51,840 Mt Co2-eq. Carbon dioxide and methane contributed more than 90%. The industry sector is the largest emittor, followed by agriculture and land use.

Very clear and compact Sankey diagram, conveying the most important information about GHG emission sources.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Brazil 2012

SEEG Sistema de Estimativas de Emissões de Gases de Efeito Estufa (Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Removals Estimates System) is an initiative of the Observatório do Clima (Climate Observatory) in Brazil.

This Sankey diagram on the SEEG web page (in Portuguese) shows greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Brazil in 2012.

On the left are the emitters by sector: land transformation, livestock farming, energy generation, industrial processes and waste sector. Emissions are grouped in the middle column by activity: agriculture, industry, transport and other. The third column is a detailed breakdown of the activity sectors.

The agricultural sector contributed 64% of Brazil’s GHG emissions in 2012, with most likely methane (CH4) from livestock breeding and CO2 release from deforestation as the major sources.

Emissions are shown in Mt CO2-e[quivalents], even though the caption says differently. Overall greenhouse gas emissions were 1490 Mt CO2e (or 1.49 bn tonnes CO2e). Detailed data is available on the website, so this can be seen as the consolidated overview of GHG emissions.

More recent GHG data for 2017 from Brazil has been published at an event in November 2018 in São Paulo, but I couldn’t find a Sankey diagram (yet).

Iran GHG Emissions from Energy Sector

Following up to my two previous posts on Iran’s Energy Flows and Iran’s Energy production and consumption, here is the third Sankey diagram I could find in the report ‘Iran and World Energy Facts and Figures, 2012’ published by Ministry of Energy (MOE) of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It is on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by the energy sector in the country


This is interesting, as the setup is reversed in comparison to the typical energy flow diagrams we all know. Here, the consuming sectors are on the left, alongside the energy generation sector itself. The middle section of the diagram sorts the arrows by energy carrier that causes the GHG emissions: natural gas contributes 53% (orange) and petroleum products 45.6% (blue). The third column shows a breakdown into the gases CO2, CH4 and N20.

No absolute values are given in the diagram, the magnitude of the flow amount to 100%. However the detailed values can be found in the accompanying tables in the report: carbon dioxide with 556,866,000 tons, methane 57,000 tons and nitrous oxide 11,600 tons (all values for 2012). Mind that these are absolute values, so in order to understand the impact on climate change one would have to multiply with the respective emission factors for methane and laughing gas and normalize them to kg CO2-equivalents.

GHG Emissions of Energy from Biogas Plant

An article by Bachmaier, Hans; Effenberger, Mathias and Gronauer, Andreas in German agricultural technology publication ‘Landtechnik’ 65 (2010), no. 3, pp. 208-212 describes how “for ten agricultural biogas plants, a detailed balance of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and cumulated energy demand (CED) was calculated”.

Below is the Sankey diagram for plant E that has the “best GHG balance of all ten plants with net savings of 85 g CO2-eq per kWh el. Characteristics are a high share of poultry manure in the input saves energy for crop production; no additional mineral fertilizer needed; credit for surplus digested residue; high level of heat use.”

Biogas plant G has “Regular treatment of animal manure from own livestock; intermediate level of heat use; high methane emissions from CGU; high demand of fossil resources during plant operation (electricity supply from grid, fuel oil).”

Both diagrams feature the GHG emission burdens in CO2-eq per kWh electric energy produced from biogas. Upstream chains for fertilizer, diesel and electricity taken into account too. Displaced GHG emissions nonus in green. It is interesting to see that in this agricultural energy scenario methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are contributing to climate change in the same dimension as carbon dioxide.

Québec Energy Flows and CO2 Emissions

The CESAR (Canada Energy Systems Analysis Research) blog at www.cesarnet.ca had been idle for a while, but reopened 2015 with a post on Québec’s energy flows and related carbon dioxide emissions.

The post ‘The State of Energy in Quebec – 2015’ features two Sankey diagrams originally from a report in French language ‘État de l’énergie au Québec’ by HEC Montral (PDF here). Benjamin Israel is the author (should I say artist?) of these Sankey diagrams.

The first Sankey diagram is on Québec’s energy flows in 2012. Flows are in petajoule (PJ). 1 petajoule is described for everybody to understand as “(278 GWh) corresponding to the energy consumption of approximately 10.000 households in Québéc.”

Four columns give a structure to the diagram: energy sources, transformation, use, efficiency of the system. The upper part depicts energy produced in Quebec (“Énergie Produite en Québec”). Energy sources are purely renewable: hydro, wind and biomass. The bottom part shows fuel imports into the province: petroleum, natural gas, uranium, coal. Grey arrows collect the losses. Interesting to see how losses from energy generation and refineries in column 2 dive beneath crossing bands to rejoin the other losses in column 4.

The second Sankey diagram (from p. 27 in the HEC document) is a summary of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (in French: ‘émissions de gaz à effet de serre’ short: GES) in Québec in 2012.

Given the information from the above energy diagram, where Québec domestic energy production is 100% from renewable sources, it is not surprsing to see that the carbon emissions are mainly from imported energy. Combustion of fossil fuels makes up for 57 of the total 78 Mt CO2-equivalent emissions. The remaining 21 Mt of CO2-equivalent emissions are from industrial processes, agriculture and waste.

Québec’s per capita GHG emissions ranges lowest with 9,7 tonnes of CO2-eqs compared to other Canadian provinces (see scale in lower left).

Beautifully crafted Sankey diagram. I hope to see more on the CESAR blog in the future.

Landscape of Climate Finance

The ‘Landscape of Climate Finance’ is a project by the Climate Policy Initiative. CPI “works to improve the most important energy and land use policies around the world, with a particular focus on finance. (This) helps nations grow while addressing increasingly scarce resources and climate risk.”

At http://www.climatefinancelandscape.org/ the have put up graphically appealing and beautifully crafted slideshow with facts on climate finance. How much is spent? Where does the money go to? Who are the receiving countries. Please browse the slideshow here.

Below are two Sankey diagrams from the 2013 report on climate finance.

The first is a rather coarse overview showing the international funding of climate projects by OECD countries and Non-OECD countries. On the right side the recipients breakdown: within their own borders, OECD countries, Non-OECD countries. Details on the countries are available in the report. Flows are in billion US$.

The other Sankey diagram is more complex. Here we can see the sources of climate finance and intermediate agents, the instruments, the recipients and the uses (adaptation and mitigation).

The incoming flows from the left are mostly “not estimated” (NE) and therefore are not to scale with the outgoing arrows. There are many annotations on assumptions and constraints, so please don’t make conclusions directly from the image. In the online version one can hover over the nodes to receive more information.

Congratulations to CPI for this work. They are tackling a complex issue graphically, and make good use of Sankey diagrams for visualization.

CamU Climate Change Mitigation Research

A research group headed by Andrew Skelton and Sören Lindner at Cambridge University’s Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research is “developing environmentally extended input-output models to assess greenhouse gas reduction across production layers and supply chains of the global economy.”

The figures on their webpage describing the group’s activities include this Sankey-style mapping of “flows of embodied emissions through the global economy [that] … help to visualise and explain … differences between production-based and consumption-based accounts of emissions”.

Unfortunately no high-res image is available. However, one can find the producing sectors on the left side (each of which identifiable by its own color) and their responsibility for a share of the 22.76 Gt direct CO2 emissions. On the right side one can see the consuming sectors and their use of input that has embodied emissions from the supply chain (two intermediate transformation steps in the centre).

Additionally one can find these two diagrams for embodied emissions from supply chains. The left one is for all major non-EU sources, the right one a breakdown for products and intermediates sourced from China.

Data is based on input-output (IO) statistics and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). An interesting topic and a good use of Sankey diagrams IMHO. Read more on the research web page that also has links to the scientific publication made by the group.