Global CO2 emissions hit record high, coal use accounts for over 65% of increase, ET EnergyWorld


New Delhi: Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.1% in 2023, rising by 410 million tonnes to set a new all-time high of 37.4 billion tonne, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported. This growth rate is slightly lower than the 1.3% increase observed in 2022, which saw emissions grow by 490 million tonne.

According to the IEA, coal combustion was responsible for over 65% of the emission increase last year. A significant factor in the rise was the global reduction in hydropower output caused by droughts, which contributed approximately 170 million tonne to the year’s total increase. Without this shortfall, the IEA noted that emissions from the global electricity sector would have experienced a decline in 2023.

The IEA’s report highlighted the impact of clean energy technologies in mitigating emissions growth. From 2019 to 2023, total energy-related emissions grew by around 900 million tonnes. However, the agency pointed out that without the expanded use of solar PV, wind energy, nuclear power, heat pumps, and electric vehicles since 2019, emissions could have been three times higher.

Emissions growth has slowed structurally, with an average annual increase of slightly more than 0.5% over the decade to 2023 — the lowest rate of growth since the Great Depression. This slowdown is attributed in part to the increased deployment of clean energy technologies.

In advanced economies, GDP grew by 1.7% while emissions fell by 4.5%, marking a record decline for a non-recessionary period. Emissions in these economies have returned to levels not seen in fifty years, with coal demand among G7 nations reverting to levels last observed around 1900. The IEA identified both structural and cyclical factors behind the 2023 emissions decline in advanced economies, including a significant increase in renewable energy, coal-to-gas switching in the United States, reduced industrial production in some regions, and milder weather conditions.

China experienced the largest emissions increase globally, with a rise of approximately 565 million tonnes in 2023, continuing its pattern of emissions-intensive economic growth post-pandemic. Despite this, China remains a leader in global clean energy development. A portion of China’s emissions growth last year was attributed to cyclical factors, such as a particularly poor hydroelectric generation year, which accounted for about one-third of its emissions increase. Per capita emissions in China are now 15% higher than in advanced economies.

In India, robust GDP growth resulted in an emissions increase of around 190 million tonnes. The country faced a weak monsoon season, which heightened electricity demand and reduced hydroelectric production, accounting for about one-quarter of its total emissions rise in 2023. Per capita emissions in India continue to be significantly lower than the global average.

  • Published On Mar 19, 2024 at 08:14 AM IST

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