Global Energy System – DPSIR: Drivers, Pressures, State, Impacts, and Responses

Analytical frameworks for assessing complex systems can be useful in understanding relationships and issues. DPSIR is a framework that identifies the Drivers, Pressures, States, Impacts, and Responses of a system. Analyzing the global energy system with the focus on employing carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies reveals many unsustainable details of the energy system. Below is a table highlighting how to apply the DPSIR framework to this issue.

Figure 1. DPSIR Framework Analyzing Global Energy Systems

Nature of the Driving ForceIndicator of the Driving Force
Humans require affordable, reliable, and accessible energy to support their needs and behaviorsIn 2018, global total electricity consumption reached 22,315 terawatt hours (IEA 2020c)
 In 2018, global natural gas consumption reached 3,928 billion cubic meters (IEA 2020d)
 In 2019, global liquid fuels consumption reached 100 million barrels per day (EIA 2021)
Nature of the PressureIndicators of the Pressure
Many sources of energy release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere like coal, natural gas, and petroleum, but also renewable resources like biomass and biogasIn 2018, global coal emissions totaled 14,766 metric tons of CO₂ (IEA 2021b)
 In 2018, global oil emissions totaled 11,415 metric tons of CO₂ (IEA 2021b)
 In 2018, global natural gas emissions totaled 7,104 metric tons of CO₂ (IEA 2021b)
Nature of the StateIndicators of the State
The release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel resources, and even renewable resources like biomass and biogas, accumulates in the Earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphereIn 2020, average annual concentrations of CO₂ in the atmosphere were 412.5 part per million (IEA 2021a)
 In 2018, the average pH of the ocean was 8.1 (NOAA 2020)
 In 2016, there were 1.65 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves in the lithosphere (Worldometer 2021)
Nature of the ImpactsIndicators of the Impacts
The increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the ocean and atmospheres creates more heat trapped and more acidic waters which leads to increased mortality rates, drought, famine, disease and pest oubreaks, wildfires, and desertificationIn 2020, global surface temperatures were 1.0 degrees Celsius above the long-term average (Lindsey and Dahlman 2021)
 In 2018, fossil fuel air pollution is estimated to be responsible for more than 8 million humans globally (Burrows 2021)
 As of 2019, climate change is currently affecting 19% of species listed as “threatened”, increasing likelihood of extinctions (IUCN 2019)
Nature of the ResponsesIndicators of the Responses
Implement regulations that require carbon capture utilization and sequestration (CCUS) for any source releasing carbon through combustionMeasure of how many metric tons of carbon are sequestered annually
Implement a global social cost of carbon for any emissions released to disincentivize carbon pollution and incentivize renewable technologiesMeasure the amount of carbon tax dollars collected that are applied to carbon reduction efforts
CCUS as a bridge for baseload energy solutions as renewable penetration is increased and to enable more time for newer technologies to be developedMeasure of energy resource mix percentage changes as energy sources moves towards 100% renewable

Author: Logan Callen


Burrows, Leah. 2021. “Deaths from Fossil Fuel Emissions Higher Than Previously Thought.” Harvard. February 9. Accessed July 7, 2021.

EIA. 2021. “Short-term Energy Outlook.” EIA. July 7. Accessed July 7, 2021.

IEA. 2021. “CO2 Emissions.” International Energy Agency. Accessed July 7, 2021.

—. 2021. “Data and Statistics.” International Energy Agency. Accessed July 7, 2021.

—. 2020. “Electricity Information: Overview.” International Energy Agency. July. Accessed July 7, 2021.

—. 2020. “Natural Gas Information: Overview.” International Energy Agency. July. Accessed July 7, 2021.

IUCN. 2019. “Issues Brief: Species and Climate Change.” International Union for Conservation of Nature. December. Accessed July 7, 2021.

Lindsey, Rebecca, and LuAnn Dahlman. 2021. “Climate Change: Global Temperature.” March 15. Accessed July 7, 2021.

NOAA. 2020. “Ocean Acidification.” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Accessed July 7, 2021.

Worldometer. 2021. “Oil Left in the World.” Worldometer. July 7. Accessed July 7, 2021.

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