Climate Change

Global energy emissions, fossil fuel use hit all-time highs in 2023

global energy emissions fossil fuel use hit all time highs in 2023

Photo: Pexels


June 20, 2024



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June 20, 2024



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Global greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector increased 2% year on year in 2023, exceeding 40 gigatons of CO2 for the first time ever, as the world’s primary energy consumption and fossil fuel use also reached their all-time highs, according to a statistical review by the Energy Institute (EI) and consultancies KPMG and Kearney. On the other hand, energy production from renewable sources, chiefly wind and solar, also rose to a record level last year.

The world’s fossil fuel consumption grew 1.5% against 2022 to 505 exajoules (EJ), driven by coal, which increased 1.6%, and oil, which climbed 2% to above 100 million barrels for the first time. The consumption of natural gas was at the same level as in 2022, according to the report, called the Statistical Review of World Energy.

China accounted for 56% of the world’s coal consumption

When it comes to coal, China was by far the largest consumer, accounting for 56% of the world’s total consumption. Also in 2023, India exceeded the combined consumption of Europe and North America for the first time ever.

Coal consumption in both Europe and North America fell below 10 EJ each. It has been in constant decline over the past 10 years, EI noted.

Bloomberg’s energy columnist Javier Blas pointed out in a tweet that just four countries – China, India, the United States and Japan – were together responsible for nearly 80% of the global coal consumption in 2023.

Four countries were responsible for nearly 80% of global coal demand in 2023

On the other hand, the share of fossil fuels in the overall global energy mix was 81.5% last year, compared to 82% in 2022, the report adds.

According to EI Chief Executive Nick Wayth, there are signs that demand for fossil fuels in advanced economies is peaking, as opposed to the global south, where economic development and improvements in the quality of life continue to drive fossil growth.

“With CO2 emissions also reaching record levels, it’s time to redouble our efforts on reducing carbon emissions and providing finance and capacity to build more low-carbon energy sources in the global south where demand is growing at a rapid pace,” urged Simon Virley, Vice Chair and Head of Energy and Natural Resources at KPMG.

Renewable energy generation also at record high

EI President Juliet Davenport noted that emissions and fossil fuel consumption were at record levels in a year which also saw all-time highs in renewables energy output.

“We report on another year of highs in our energy-hungry world. 2023 saw record consumption of fossil fuels and record emissions from energy, but also record generation of renewables, driven by increasingly competitive wind and solar energy,” she said.

Renewable energy output, excluding hydro, jumped 13% in 2023

Renewable energy generation, excluding hydropower, jumped 13% last year to a record high of 4,748 TWh, driven almost entirely by wind and solar power. The category had an 8% share of primary energy use in the world in 2023. With hydropower, the share of renewables was 15%, according to the report.

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