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Indicators of Energy Use and Carbon Emissions: Explaining the Energy Economy Link

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, p.26- (2001)



This article reviews energy indicators, which are developed to describe the links between energy use and human activity in a disaggregated manner. After briefly reviewing a number of early and current efforts to develop indicators, we discuss the basic concepts of various indicators and the methodologies used to derive them. We also review the use of decomposition methods to aid in the analysis of trends in energy use and comparisons of uses between countries. Findings from our comparative and time-series analyses of several industrialized countries illustrate the application of these methods. Using simplified methods for estimating the carbon released in direct combustion of fossil fuels, and in electricity and heat production, energy indicators can be extended to carbon emissions. These carbon indicators can play an important role in aiding negotiations over carbon reduction targets and evaluating progress toward meeting abatement goals.