The expansion of renewable energy prevented carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from increasing significantly in the energy crisis during 2022, but they did reach their historical maximum. The risk of rapid growth due to an increase in coal use has not materialized as it was restrained by the development of green energy, according to a new analysis by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the energy sector increased by less than 1% globally last year. It is less than feared. The growth in solar and wind power, electric vehicles, heat pumps, and energy efficiency has helped limit the impact of increasing coal and oil use since the start of the energy crisis, according to the IEA’s report on CO2 emissions in 2022.
However, although the increase in emissions last year was far lower than the spike of more than 6% from 2021, they remain on an unsustainable growth trajectory, the agency warns.
Therefore, stronger action is necessary to accelerate the transition to clean energy and direct the world towards meeting energy and climate goals, analysts from the IEA point out.
Energy-related CO2 emissions grew in 2022 by 0.9%, or 321 million tons, reaching a new high of more than 36.8 billion tons.
The increase in emissions was slower than global economic growth
The document notes that the increase in emissions was significantly slower than global economic growth, which amounted to 3.2%.
In addition to the energy crisis, extreme weather events such as droughts and heatwaves and an unusually high number of nuclear power plants being offline have contributed to the increase in the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.
The deployment of clean energy technologies has avoided the release of 550 million tons of CO2 into the air
On the other hand, increased deployment of clean energy technologies has avoided 550 million tons of CO2 emissions, the IEA said.
The biggest emission increase is from oil
Without clean energy, the growth of CO2 emissions would be almost three times higher, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol pointed out.
“International and national fossil fuel companies are making record revenues and need to take their share of responsibility, in line with their public pledges to meet climate goals,” Birol said.
CO2 emissions from coal grew by 1.6% as the global energy crisis continued to fuel a surge in the transition from gas to coal in Asia and, to a lesser extent, in Europe, the IEA noted.
Emissions from oil recorded the largest increase, 2.5%, but remained below the level from before the pandemic.
The European Union emitted 2.5% less CO2, thanks to the record deployment of renewable energy, the agency said.
When methane and nitrous oxide, greenhouse gases as well, are also taken into account, emissions increased by 1% in 2022 to an unprecedented 41.3 gigatons of CO2 equivalent.