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Clean energy growth helps stymie pace of global carbon emissions in 2022: IEA

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Clean energy growth helps stymie pace of global carbon emissions in 2022: IEA


2022 CO2 emissions up by only 0.9%, less than initially feared

Emissions from natural gas fall in aftermath of Russia-Ukraine war

Clean energy use helped prevent an additional 550mtCO2e

  • Author
  • Eklavya Gupte
  • Editor
  • Aastha Agnihotri
  • Commodity
  • Coal Electric Power Energy Transition Natural Gas
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  • United States
  • Topic
  • Coronavirus and Commodities Energy Transition Europe Energy Price Crisis War in Ukraine

Global carbon dioxide emissions reached all-time highs in 2022, but this growth was lower than initially feared due to a rise in clean energy deployment, the International Energy Agency said March 2.

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Emissions from energy combustion and industrial processes grew 0.9% to a new record high of 36.8/GigatonCO2e, according to the IEA's latest report. This compares to 2021 when CO2 emissions surged by more than 6% as many economies were finally emerging out of COVID-19.

Increased usage of clean energy sources such as renewables, electric vehicles, and heat pumps helped prevent an additional 550mtCO2e, according to the Paris-based agency.

This slow growth took place despite the trend of gas-to-coal switching in a world still reeling from energy price shocks, rising inflation, and disruptions to traditional fuel trade flows.

Fossil fuels

But IEA's Executive Director Fatih Birol warned that emissions from fossil fuels are set to grow further, which could dent global climate goals.

"Without clean energy, the growth in CO2 emissions would have been nearly three times as high," Birol added. "International and national fossil fuel companies are making record revenues and need to take their share of responsibility, in line with their public pledges to meet climate goals. It's critical that they review their strategies to make sure they're aligned with meaningful emissions reductions."

Emissions from oil grew by 2.5% (or 268 Mt) to 11.2 Gt in 2022, with much of the increase attributed to the increase in air travel, especially in advanced economies.

Meanwhile, a tight gas market caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, meant that emissions from natural gas fell by 1.6% or 118mtCO2e, the report showed.

But this reduction was offset by an increased in coal sector, which emitted almost 15.5 GigatonCO2e amid a wave of gas-to-coal switching.

The growth in emissions was however well below global GDP growth of 3.2%, reverting to a decade-long trend of decoupling emissions and economic growth that was broken by 2021's sharp rebound in emissions, the report showed.

Meanwhile, there was a divergence geographically. China's emissions were broadly unchanged in 2022 amid strict COVID-19 measures while Asia's emerging and developing economies saw their rise by 4.2% on rapid energy demand growth.

Increased use of renewables in the EU led to fall in emissions for the bloc. A mild start to the European winter and energy savings measures in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine also contributed.

However, in the US, emissions grew by 0.8% as buildings increased their energy consumption to cope with extreme temperatures.