Carbon emissions rise again along with global energy demand

Worldwide demand for energy climbed by 2.1 percent in 2017, which is a rate more than twice the previous year’s, according to the International Energy Agency.

This demand growth is due to a strengthening global economy, according to an IEA release. Oil and gas, along with coal, are still meeting most of world energy demand, but renewable energy is on the grow.

As a result of these trends, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.4 percent in 2017, after three years of remaining flat.

According to the IEA, this rise in carbon emissions is not universal, though. Despite the historical high of 32.5 gigatonnes in 2017, some major economies, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan, saw a drop in emissions.

The U.S., one of the world’s top polluters, saw a drop in emissions due to more deployment of renewable energy.

The IEA released these findings as part of its Global Energy and CO2 Status Report, 2017.

“The robust global economy pushed up energy demand last year, which was mostly met by fossil fuels, while renewables made impressive strides,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “The significant growth in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 tells us that current efforts to combat climate change are far from sufficient. For example, there has been a dramatic slowdown in the rate of improvement in global energy efficiency as policy makers have put less focus in this area.”

Other key findings of the report for 2017 include:

·      Oil demand grew by 1.6 percent, more than twice the average annual rate seen over the past decade, driven by the transport sector (in particular a growing share of SUVs and trucks in major economies) as well as rising petrochemical demand.

·      Natural gas consumption grew 3 percent, the most of all fossil fuels, with China alone accounting for nearly a third of this growth, and the buildings and industry sectors contributing to 80 percent of the increase in global demand.

·      Coal demand rose about 1 percent, reversing declines over the previous two years, driven by an increase in coal-fired electricity generation mostly in Asia.

·      Renewables had the highest growth rate of any fuel, meeting a quarter of world energy demand growth, as renewables-based electricity generation rose 6.3 percent, driven by expansion of wind, solar and hydropower.

·      Electricity generation increased by 3.1 percent, significantly faster than overall energy demand, and India and China together accounting for 70 percent of the global increase.

·      Energy efficiency improvements slowed significantly, with global energy intensity improving by only 1.7 percent in 2017 compared with 2.3 percent on average over the last three years, caused by an apparent slowdown in efficiency policy coverage and stringency and lower energy prices.

·      Fossil fuels accounted for 81 percent of total energy demand in 2017, a level that has remained stable for more than three decades.

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