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Energy-Related Emissions Hit a Record High Last Year Despite Renewables Surge

Despite a decline in fossil fuel use in developed economies, global energy-related emissions rose last year to another record-high level as coal use rose in major developing markets hit by low hydropower generation, the latest emissions report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) showed on Friday.

Global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions grew by 1.1% in 2023, or by 410 million tons, to reach a new record high of 37.4 billion tons, the IEA said in its CO2 Emissions in 2023 report.  

The rise in emissions was lower than the 1.3% increase in 2022, but the world’s energy-related CO2 emissions continued to grow to new heights in 2023, mainly due to higher coal use in developing economies.

Emissions from coal accounted for more than 65% of the increase in 2023, the IEA said. Part of the rise in coal-fired power generation was the result of a global shortfall in hydropower generation due to droughts.

Last year, major developing markets such as China and India relied even more heavily on coal power generation as hydroelectric production slumped amid lower-than-normal rainfalls that reduced water levels on the biggest rivers and depleted hydro reservoirs.     

Lower hydropower output and its replacement with coal drove up emissions by around 170 million tons last year, according to the agency’s estimates.

“Without this effect, emissions from the global electricity sector would have fallen in 2023,” the IEA said in its report.  

Energy-related emissions in advanced economies fell by 4.5% despite economic growth, with coal demand in developed markets now back down to the level from around 1900, the agency said.

But emissions in the biggest developing markets, China and India, grew, due to higher power demand and coal use amid a slump in hydropower generation.  

Globally, the acceleration of solar, wind, and EVs has curbed the increase in emissions in recent years, according to the IEA.


“Without clean energy technologies, the global increase in CO2 emissions in the last five years would have been three times larger,” the agency said.   

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on March 01 2024 said:
    What does tell us? Three important things:

    1- The global demand for oil is continuing to rise. This is supported by OPEC's projection of a global oil demand of 110 million barrels a day (mbd) by 2028 and 116 mbd by 2045

    2- The rise in demand for renewables is hyped by the IEA and Western green policies.

    3- Energy security is far more important than concern about climate change and rising emissions, hence the rise in coal demand in China, India and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region.

    This immediately negates the IEA's projection of peak oil demand before 2030 and proves that a global energy transition and net-zero emissions by 2050 are mere illusions.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Global Energy Expert

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