Record energy-related emissions as global demand surges: IEA report

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its first Global Energy and CO2 Status Report, finding that a surge in global energy demand during 2017 was accompanied by a 1.7% growth in global energy-related CO2 emissions to a historic high of 32.5 gigatonnes (Gt).

This followed three years of global emissions remaining flat.

The increase in CO2 emissions, according to the report, was not universal. While most major economies saw a rise, some experienced declines, including the United States, United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan. The biggest decline came from the United States, mainly because of higher deployment of renewables.

Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, said that while renewable energy had made impressive strides during the year, "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.”.

Global energy demand in 2017 reached an estimated 14 050 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe), compared with 10 035 Mtoe in 2000.

Fossil fuels met over 70% of the growth in energy demand around the world. Natural gas demand increased the most, reaching a record share of 22% in total energy demand. Coal demand rose about 1%, reversing declines over the previous two years, driven by an increase in coal-fired electricity generation mostly in Asia.

Renewables also grew strongly, making up around a quarter of global energy demand growth. Renewables-based electricity generation rose 6.3%, driven by expansion of wind, solar and hydropower.

China and the United States led this unprecedented growth, contributing around 50% of the increase in renewables-based electricity generation, followed by the European Union, India and Japan. Wind power accounted for 36% of the growth in renewables-based power output.

Nuclear use accounted for the remainder of the growth.

The overall share of fossil fuels in global energy demand in 2017 was 81%, a level that has remained stable for more than three decades despite strong growth in renewables.

The Global Energy & CO2 Status Report is available here

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