Despite significant growth in wind and solar power, greenhouse gas emissions from the energy industry reached new heights last year, as fossil fuels continued to dominate global energy consumption, accounting for 82% of the total. This led to a 0.8% increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to higher overall energy usage worldwide.
Looking ahead, global energy consumption is expected to rise further, potentially resulting in even higher greenhouse gas emissions. China’s decision to lift strict Covid travel restrictions contributed to this projection, as it had previously curtailed jet fuel consumption.
Juliet Davenport, the Energy Institute’s president, said: “Despite further strong growth in wind and solar in the power sector, overall global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions increased again. We are still heading in the opposite direction to that required by the Paris Agreement.”
The report, conducted in collaboration with KPMG and the consultancy Kearney, revealed that renewable energy sources (excluding hydro power) met only 7.5% of the world’s energy demand in 2022, representing a modest increase of nearly 1% from the previous year. Although wind and solar energy witnessed record growth, with solar generation increasing by 25% and wind power output growing by 13.5% compared to the year before, the gains were overshadowed by a more significant 1.1% rise in global energy consumption compared to the 5.5% increase in 2021. Consequently, more oil and coal were burned to meet the heightened demand.
Simon Virley, the head of energy and natural resources at KPMG, said: “Despite record growth in renewables, the share of world energy still coming from fossil fuels remains stubbornly stuck at 82%, which should act as a clarion call for governments to inject more urgency into the energy transition.”
Global oil demand rose by 2.9 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2022, reaching an average of 97.3 million bpd, largely due to the recovery of global economic activity following the Covid pandemic.
Additionally, coal demand reached its highest level since 2014, increasing by 0.6% compared to 2021, driven by rising demand in India and China. The appetite for coal power surged amid record-high gas prices in Europe and Asia due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gas accounted for 24% of the world’s energy use last year, slightly down from 25% the previous year, while gas production remained relatively stable.
The Energy Institute issued a warning that persistently high energy-related emissions could jeopardize the objectives of the Paris climate agreement unless swift action is taken by governments worldwide. Under the Paris Accord, emissions should be reduced by half by the end of the decade to avoid catastrophic global heating levels.
Richard Forrest, the head of global sustainability at Kearney, said the rise in greenhouse gas emissions reinforced the need for “urgent action to get the world on track to meet the Paris targets”. He added that the need to deliver clean, affordable and secure energy “has never been greater”.
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