The United Kingdom's Fossil Resource Consumption Between 1968 and 2000


Address correspondence to:
Eleni Papathanasopoulou
Sustainable Solutions Greece
P.O. Box 77174
Paleo Faliro


This article presents the trends of two indicators measuring fossil resource consumption in the United Kingdom (UK). First, a domestic material consumption (DMC) indicator for fossil resources (DMCfossil) in the mass unit million tonnes is calculated. DMCfossil shows that between 1970 and 2000 UK fossil resource consumption decreased by 10%, which suggests absolute dematerialization for this resource. Investigation into the mix of fossil resources during this period highlighted the shift from the heavy fossil resource coal to the lighter, more energy-dense natural gas, which resulted in decreased mass of resource required. Second, an alternative indicator, resource consumption by a nation (RCN) for fossil resources (RCNfossil) was calculated, which includes the indirect fossil resources attributable to traded goods and is measured in million tonnes of oil equivalent. RCNfossil shows that between 1970 and 2000 United Kingdom's fossil resource consumption increased by 14%, which emphasizes that even though there has been a decrease in the mass of fossil resources demanded, it has been accompanied by an increase in the volume of resource consumed. Additionally, deconstruction of RCNfossil shows that indirectly used resources attributable to exports and imports for the United Kingdom are significant. RCNfossil indicates that on the basis of past trends, fossil resources attributable to UK imports will overtake fossil resources attributable to its exports, which will make it dependent on imported resources. We conclude that further debate on appropriate aggregate and complementary indicators is needed.