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Growth in emissions slows despite rising demand for energy

The new International Energy Agency (IEA) Emissions Report has revealed that CO2 emissions increased by 410 million tonnes (1.1%) in 2023, which represents a slight improvement on last year’s report which revealed a 490 million tonnes increase in 2022.

The total emissions for last year were a record-breaking 37.4 billion tonnes.white and brown factory during dayThe positive news is that the increase in emissions slowed down while the demand for energy rose, demonstrating the positive impact renewables are having on global emissions. IEA have calculated that, without clean energy technologies, the global increase in CO2 emissions over the last five years would have been three times larger.

The report highlights some extenuating circumstances, without which the results would have been better yet although, as one of these is the extreme droughts which crippled hydropower around the world, we can’t necessarily assume we will not encounter such conditions again.

The IEA have calculated that this hydropower shortfall was behind more than 40% of the rise in emissions, due to countries turning to fossil fuels to plug the gap. Had it not been for the unusually low hydropower output, the reports says, global CO2 emissions from electricity generation would have declined last year, making the overall rise in energy-related emissions significantly smaller.

CO2 emissions in the advanced economies saw a record fall last year, despite growing GDP. Emissions dropped to the lowest level for 50 years while coal demand fell back to the levels of the early 1900s.

At least half of electricity generation in these advanced economies came from low-emissions sources last year, the first time this has happened.

Recognising the growing significance of renewable energy, the IEA have also published the first of a new series: the Clean Energy Market Monitor, which provides timely tracking of clean energy deployment for specific technologies and outlines the implications for global energy markets more broadly.

Being the first in the series, and given the acceleration of clean energy deployment since 2019, the Clean Energy Market Monitor also analyses the energy market impacts of clean energy deployment trends since 2019.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said: ‘The clean energy transition has undergone a series of stress tests in the last five years – and it has demonstrated its resilience. A pandemic, an energy crisis and geopolitical instability all had the potential to derail efforts to build cleaner and more secure energy systems. Instead, we’ve seen the opposite in many economies. The clean energy transition is continuing apace and reining in emissions – even with global energy demand growing more strongly in 2023 than in 2022. The commitments made by nearly 200 countries at COP28 in Dubai in December show what the world needs to do to put emissions on a downward trajectory. Most importantly, we need far greater efforts to enable emerging and developing economies to ramp up clean energy investment.’


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