This week, the eyes of the world will be on Brazil, where the planet's most popular sporting event, the World Cup, will be drawing to a close. The semi-finals will be played on July 8 and 9, with the final on July 12. Those of us in the English-speaking world, however, have lost our rooting interest.
As an Englishman living in the U.S., I have witnessed the usual abysmal disappointment of the England team and the plucky, but futile, efforts of team U.S.A. with a horrible sense of déjà vu and little or no surprise. The African nations once again flattered to deceive and not even the most fanatical "Socceroo" fan could seriously have believed that Australia had a chance.
Any sport is better when watched with a partisan interest, however, so many, including me, are searching for a reason to support a team in the latter stages of the competition. None of the semi-finalists can really be viewed as an underdog, so that avenue is closed.
Fortunately, for those of us with an interest in energy policy and investing, the 2014 Statistical Review of World Energy, published by BP, enables us to find one. We can lend our support to the "greenest" country left in the competition or, I guess, you could cheer on the largest consumers of fossil fuels if you are a little contrarian by nature.
To arrive at the relevant statistics, I combined the renewable and hydro-electricity consumption of each of the four remaining nations, Brazil, Germany, The Netherlands and Argentina, and then calculated what percentage of that country's total energy consumption "green" energy represents. As the focus was on environmental concerns, I decided, post-Fukushima, to exclude nuclear energy production from the green energy consumption number. On that basis, the semi-final match ups are as follows.
Brazil Vs. Germany
Brazil has a population that is over twice the size of Germany's: 198.4 million versus 80.4 million. Despite that, Brazil's status as an emerging rather than fully developed economy means that their total 2013 energy consumption, at 284 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTE), comes in lower than Germany's 325 million. If hydro-electric power is excluded, then Germany would be the winner, with around 9 percent of energy needs met by alternatives, against Brazil's less than 5 percent. Once hydro is factored in, however, host nation Brazil emerges as the clear winner, despite the injury to Neymar. 35.5 percent of their energy needs are met by non-fossil fuel or nuclear sources, as compared to only 10.5 percent for the European contenders.
Netherlands Vs. Argentina
The results for the second semi-final would indicate that the "greenness" of a nation's energy consumption is more about deliberate policy than that country's level of development or geographical location. Both sides are approximately equal in total energy consumption. The Netherlands consumed 86.8 MTE of energy in 2013, while Argentina's total consumption was 84.5 MTE. In this match up, though, Holland's 37.09 percent of total consumption easily beats Argentina's 11.71 percent reliance on alternative sources for energy.
In a close fought game, The Netherlands just edges out Brazil in a 37.09 to 35.5 victory, and we can cheer for the first ever World Cup victory for the Dutch.
If you are a fan of fossil fuels, then the results are, of course, reversed. Germany would meet Argentina in the final, with Germany squeaking out a narrow victory. Whichever way you look at it, though, at least you will have somebody to cheer for.