Global Carbon Emissions: A Closer Look at Indonesia
A data visualisation project by Aninda Dewayanti
Hello! I am Aninda, a social scientist working on environmental politics in Southeast Asia. I usually used normative, qualitative approaches in my research. But this time around, I am stepping out of my comfort zones to familiarise myself with numbers and learn about data. This project is part of my learning outputs on fundamental statistics, which I had great fun working on. You may expect to see social, historical, or political insights from my visualisation. Enjoy!
Introduction and Objectives
Do you feel that the weather is getting more extreme by the day? Have you observed some islands disappearing due to the rising sea level? These all happen due to the rising amount of greenhouse gas from carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions — later called “carbon emissions”. CO2 emissions can come from many sources, but the prominent one is fossil fuels. These emissions are stuck in the ozone layer and make the earth warmer. Scientists agreed that the earth’s temperature would be as high as 2 degrees celsius by 2050. It may be seen as a low number, but even a 0.5-degree increase would impact to the severity of heat waves, rain storms, and rising sea levels. Such bad news, rite?
But the earth isn’t flat. There are many countries, companies, and people around the world consuming fossil fuels. They contribute to carbon emissions differently, depending on geographical location and regulations in the given country. In this project, we will look at how much emissions are produced globally, with a particular case study of Indonesia. By taking a multi-level approach, this analysis first explains global historical trends of carbon emissions and the picture in ASEAN. Using Indonesia as a case study, it then provides a deeper examination of the prominent fossil fuels emitter, the correlation between fossil fuels and carbon emissions, and projections for 2030 by different carbon reduction effort scenarios.
For full interactive data visualisation, take a peek at my Tableau page here!
You may also watch my presentation here!
For this project, I utilise three main datasets. The first two datasets on global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at the country level were generated from Kaggle, accessible here (shoutout to The Devastator for the effort!). The third dataset on coal, oil, and gas consumption was acquired from British Petrolium’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2022.
The first dataset consists of the total CO2 emissions of 232 countries worldwide from 1750 to 2021. It contains 11 columns and 63105 rows. Each row corresponds to a particular country, and each column represents a different attribute describing the number of emissions. The total amount of CO2 emissions counts emissions from different sources, such as fossil fuels, forestry, the manufacturing industry, and even household.
The second dataset has similar features, but the numbers shown are emissions per capita — meaning the CO2 contribution of the average citizen of each country. The last dataset aimed to robust the analysis by providing numbers of consumption for several fossil fuel sources, namely coal, oil, and gas.
For this particular project, I combine the datasets to find comprehensive data on CO2 emissions. To see the most recent development, I specify the time period from the first global oil crisis in 1973 to 2021.
I briefly describe the variables as follows:
- Country: The name of the country.
- Year: The year of the data.
- Per Capita: The amount of CO2 emissions per capita for the country in the given year.
- Total: The total amount of CO2 emissions for the country in the given year, in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).
- Coal; Oil; Gas; Cement; Flaring: each contains the amount of CO2 emissions from the respective sources for the country in the given year, in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).
- Coal_consumption; oil_consumption; gas_consumption: each refers to the amount of consumption of respective sources in Indonesia in the given year, in terawatt-hour (TWh).
#1. How, globally, have carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions trended over the years? Among the fossil fuel sources, what are the two largest emitters?
Let’s see the time series graph below, showing the total CO2 emissions since the 1970s. The oil crises in 1973 and 1979 helped stabilise the emissions produced by the world for a few years but quickly increased again. Kyoto Protocol, a global agreement that was supposed to push countries worldwide to reduce emissions, had taken a long time to be adopted and instead experienced a steep increase in emissions. When Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015, there was a slight peak. That was right before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and minimised mobility. The pervasive disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic have radically altered the trajectory of global CO2 emissions. Hence, the fall of emissions by almost 25.000 MtCO2e in 2020.
From 1973 to 2021, coal contributed the largest emissions from the fossil fuel sector, followed by oil. The bar chart above shows that the number of emissions produced by coal and oil is comparable by around 12,000 MtCO2e.
#2. Since I live in Southeast Asia, I wonder what the graphs look like for ASEAN member states. Who does produce the largest amount of emissions?
I filter the country data to cover ten ASEAN countries. The two bar charts below show the carbon emissions in ASEAN, both in emissions per capita and total emissions. The first graph shows that Brunei has the highest emissions per capita — meaning that, on average, each citizen contributes 1,082 MtCO2e of carbon emissions. Indonesia is ranked number five on emissions per capita, after Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. This is likely due to different sizes in terms of population and geographical location.
But, when it comes to total CO2 emissions from 1973–2021, Indonesia produced the largest emissions in the region (see the second bar chart). As mentioned, the emissions may come from different sources, such as fossil fuels, forestry, the manufacturing industry, and even household. Its amount is almost doubled that of Thailand, the second-largest emitter. Again, geography and demography matter.
#3. Let’s zoom in on Indonesia. What are the top two top fossil fuel emitters, and how have they contributed to the country’s emissions over the years?
While in the previous graph, we see coal was dominating as the world’s top carbon emitter, the picture is quite different in Indonesia. The bar chart below shows that oil contributes the most emissions as compared to other fossil fuels. But how come?
Let’s see the development of coal and oil emissions in the time series graph further below. •Oil has consistently dominated Indonesia’s top emitter since the 1970s. But the growth started faltering in 2012, then oil prices crashed in 2018. Meanwhile, emissions growth from coal has escalated rapidly ever since.
#4. Do fossil fuels really contribute to more carbon emissions?
People talked about greenhouse emissions caused by carbon dioxide derived from fossil fuel sources. You may wonder: Is it true, though?
To understand how best to reduce CO2 emissions in Indonesia, it will be helpful to analyse the correlation between fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. A scatter plot will help us to understand the correlation between the two variables.
Uh oh, it does! In the above graphs, the consumption of fossil fuel sources has a strong positive correlation (r= >0.87) to the total CO2 emissions, with coal having an almost perfect positive correlation (r = 0.99). This means that fossil fuel consumption is indeed highly contributing to total CO2 production in Indonesia.
#4. Gearing up for 2030?
In Paris Agreement in 2016, Indonesia submitted Nationally-Determined Contributions (NDCs) to indicate its greenhouse gas targets. Their targets are: by 2030, the country will reduce emissions by 31.9% on its own efforts. But, it will cut emissions by 43.2% if given appropriate international financial support.
In the above line chart from 1973–2021, with forecast data up to 2030, we can see how it looks for 2030 Indonesia in three scenarios: business-as-usual (meaning that we don’t do anything to reduce emissions), if Indonesia relies on its own effort to reduce emissions (31.89% reduction), and if the country gets international assistance (43.2% reduction). While the second only cuts slightly more than 155,000 MtCO2e, the last scenario will cut more than one-third of the total carbon emissions in 2021.
Conclusion and Recommendation
From the above analysis, we have got several insights:
- Globally, among 232 countries, there has been an increasing trend of carbon emissions. Many historical events have slightly reduced emissions yet only faced failure as it has been going upward.
- Coal and oil are the top two fossil fuel emitters in the world. Indonesia, the largest emitter in ASEAN, also has oil and coal as top producers of CO2 emissions.
- There is a strong correlation between fossil fuels and CO2 emissions. The more we burn fossil fuels, the more CO2 we produce.
- Based on the projection, the scenario that will be implemented by the Government of Indonesia might bring us to travel back in time up to 2010.
We do understand that the world needs to keep its temperature low by reducing carbon emissions in order to be a livable planet. Now, we ought to ask: what’s next? Here are some of my recommendations for policymakers, businessmen, activists, or anyone out there who cares about the environment.
- In keeping the growth in global CO2 emissions faltering, we need to create a breakthrough in the global consumption of fossil fuels. One of the ways is to boost the adoption of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, and make them affordable and accessible for common people.
- The global consumption of coal and oil, among other fossil fuels, has to be cut down significantly to reduce carbon emissions, most importantly in Indonesia. Coal power plants and oil refineries need to be phased out while at the same time developing low-carbon technologies.
- Indonesia should gain more and more international support in order to be able to reduce emissions by half or even more. The support could be in the form of low-carbon technological innovations or carbon offset initiatives from nature-based solutions.
This project is part of PACMANN.AI’s course on Fundamental Statistics. The author thanks Mas Faisal, Mas Rafli, and Kak Ulfa for their guidance throughout the Intro to DataViz class. Since this is the author’s first data visualisation project, comments and suggestions are very much welcome!