CO2 emissions from energy hit a new high in 2022, but lower than expected

Global energy-related CO2 emissions increased further in 2022, by 0.9%, to reach a new record, albeit lower than expected thanks to the boom in green energies and technologies, the Agency announced on Thursday. International Energy Agency (IEA).

“The risk of unbridled growth in emissions due to the increased use of coal in the context of the energy crisis has not materialized, the rise of solar and wind energy, electric cars, energy efficiency and other factors that have slowed the rise in CO2, ”notes the IEA on Thursday in an analysis based on public national data.

Emissions due to energy (more than three quarters of total greenhouse gases) keep “an unsustainable growth trajectory”, fueling climate change, warns the IEA, however, which calls for stronger action.

Coal on the rise

In 2022, CO2 emissions from energy grew by 0.9%, reaching a record of more than 36.8 billion tonnes, the report said. But according to the IEA, 550 million tonnes of CO2 have also been avoided by new low-carbon energy infrastructures. Last year, renewables accounted for 90% of the growth in electricity production. In 2021, the annual increase in energy-related emissions had reached 6%, after an exceptionally slow Covid-19 year.

Last year, emissions were fueled by increased use of fossil fuels linked in particular to the resurgence of extreme climatic episodes or even the difficulties of operating an unprecedented number of nuclear reactors.

Emissions generated by the combustion of coal, which in Asia but also in Europe has often replaced gas which has become too expensive, increased by 1.6%. Oil-related emissions increased by 2.5%, but remained below pre-Covid levels. Half of this growth comes from the resumption of air traffic, explains the IEA.

Energy companies “must take their share of responsibility”

Geographically, Asia excluding China saw its emissions increase by 4.2%, driven by its economic growth. China, subject to restrictions due to Covid, remains at the same level of emissions. In the EU, emissions fell by 2.5%, thanks to a record deployment of renewables in the face of the return of coal. In the United States, they increased by 0.8%, with a sharp increase in energy demand due to extreme temperatures.

“The impacts of the energy crisis have not generated the massive growth in emissions that we feared, thanks to the remarkable growth of renewables, electric vehicles, heat pumps and energy efficiency technologies. Without this, the growth in CO2 emissions would have been nearly three times higher,” commented IEA Director Fatih Birol.

“However, emissions from fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal) continue to grow, hampering efforts to meet global climate goals,” he added, urging the companies concerned to act. “International and national companies in the fossil fuel sector are reaping record revenues and must take their share of responsibility, in line with their public commitments with regard to the climate. They must review their strategies in the direction of a real reduction of their emissions”, he underlined.

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