Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2018: IEA

Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2018: IEA

Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2018: IEA

According to new findings from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the highest energy demand for more than a decade produced record carbon emissions, driven largely by higher oil consumption in the US and coal burning in China and India.

Most of the electricity generated by coal came from new power plants in Asia.

For the most part, humanity's growing demand for energy still means a growing demand for fossil fuels. "China, India, and USA accounted for 85 per cent of the net increase in emissions, while it declined for Germany, Japan, Mexico, France and the United Kingdom", the IEA added.

Overall, CO2 emissions in 2018 increased by 0.5 percent for every one percentage point gain in global economic output, compared to a 0.3 percent average increase since 2010. China, the United States, and India together accounted for almost 70% of the rise in energy demand.

China, India and the USA accounted for 85% of the net increase in emissions that was largely fuelled by higher electricity demand, contributing to almost two-thirds of emissions growth.

Carbon emissions rose to a record high in 2018 as demand for energy soared in countries such as the US, China and India, pointing to a seeming neglect of global warming concerns as nations chased ever-faster economic growth. According to the Report, demand for all fuels increased in 2018, but it was fossil fuels which benefited the most, accounting for almost 70% of global growth for the second year in a row.

"Despite major growth in renewables, global emissions are still rising, demonstrating once again that more urgent action is needed on all fronts - developing all clean energy solutions, curbing emissions, improving efficiency, and spurring investments and innovation, including in carbon capture, utilisation and storage", Dr Birol said.

This exceptional rise in energy demand was driven by a robust global economy and stronger heating and cooling needs in some regions, according to the IEA report. Also, increased power generation was responsible for half of the growth in primary energy demand in 2018.

The United States' CO2 emissions grew by 3.1 percent in 2018, reversing a decline a year earlier, while China's emissions rose by 2.5 percent and India's by 4.5 percent. The report emphasised that this would be the second consecutive year of strong growth (after a 3 per cent gain in 2017). This accounts for 11 per cent of global demand growth.

Global gas demand increased at its fastest rate since 2010, up 4.6 percent from a year earlier, driven by higher demand as switching from gas to coal increased.

"The U.S. stepping off the track is not only a problem to its share of global emissions, but to also because of the signal it sends to other countries that it is OK for them to also step off the track", Gallagher said. The United States and China showed the largest overall growth.

Global coal consumption in 2018 rose only in Asia, especially China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia, the report found. Energy efficiency saw "lacklustre improvement", it said.

IEA executive director Fatih Birol said more work was needed to increase power generation from renewable energy sources, with demand rising by 4 per cent past year.

The power sector led the growth, with renewable-based electricity generation increasing by 7 per cent, nearly 450 TWh, equivalent to Brazil's entire electricity demand, which was faster than the 6 per cent average annual growth since 2010.

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