"The plain truth is that the United States is an inefficient user of
energy. For each dollar of economic product, the United States spews
more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than 75 of 107 countries
tracked in the indicators of the International Energy Agency. Those
doing better include not only cutting-edge nations like Japan but
low-tech countries like Thailand and Mexico.
efficiency has improved, especially in states like California. But
American drivers, households and businesses still use more energy than
those in most other rich countries to do the same thing. The United
States spends more energy to produce a ton of cement clinker than
Canada, Mexico and even China. It is one of the most energy-intensive
makers of pulp and paper, emitting more than three times as much carbon
dioxide per ton as Brazil and twice as much as South Korea.
carbon dioxide emissions by households in the United States and Canada
are the highest in the world — in part because of bigger homes. And the
energy efficiency of electricity production from fossil fuels is lower
in the United States than in most rich countries and some poor ones,
mainly because of the higher share of coal in the mix.
tells the same story. The United States uses the most energy per
passenger mile among the 18 rich economies surveyed by the energy
agency. In 2006, the American auto fleet used, on average, a little
less than five gallons of gas to travel 100 miles. The Irish went the
same distance with under four gallons, the Italians with less than
three, basically because they use smaller cars that get better mileage.