Global carbon emissions hit record high in 2017: IEA Report

The global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a historic high of 32.5 gigatons in 2017, after three years of being flat, due to higher energy demand and the slowing of energy efficiency improvements, according to the latest report by International Energy Agency.

Mar 24, 2018 09:12 IST
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According to International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy-related carbon emissions rose to a historic high of 32.5 gigatons in 2017, after three years of being flat, due to higher energy demand and the slowing of energy efficiency improvements.

The global energy demand rose by 2.1 per cent in 2017 to 14,050 million tonnes of oil equivalent, more than twice the previous year’s rate, boosted by strong economic growth, according to the preliminary estimates of the IEA.

Key Highlights

• The global energy demand reportedly rose by 0.9 per cent in 2016 and 0.9 per cent on an average over the previous five years.

• The IEA report stated that over 70 per cent of the global energy demand growth was met by non-renewable sources like oil, natural gas and coal, while renewables accounted for almost all of the rest.

• The report also noted that improvements in energy efficiency slowed in the past year.

• As a result of these trends, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.4 per cent in 2017 to 32.5 gigatons, a record high.

Speaking on the development, IEA’s Executive Director Fatih Birol said that the significant growth in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 reveal that current efforts to combat climate change are far from sufficient.

Giving an example of the same, she stated that there has been a dramatic slowdown in the rate of improvement in global energy efficiency as policymakers have put less focus in this area.

The rise in carbon emissions

• Carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of the rise in global average temperature, which is resulting in extreme climate change across the globe.

• Most countries are struggling to curb/ stall and stop the global temperature rise, as it would have the most devastating effect on climate in the coming times.

• During talks in Germany late last year, scientists had presented data showing that world carbon emissions were set to rise 2 per cent in 2017, to a new record.

• Hence, the IEA said in its report that the global emissions need to peak soon and decline steeply to 2020 and the decline will now need to be even greater given the increase in emissions in 2017.


Carbon emissions in Asia

The IEA report stated that Asian countries accounted for two-thirds of the global increase in emissions.

The emissions by China alone rose by 1.7 per cent to 9.1 gigatons, limited by renewables deployment and more rapid switching to gas from coal. Other major economies also saw an increase in carbon emissions.

The decline in carbon emissions

On the other hand, some nations including Britain, the United States, Mexico and Japan experienced a decline in carbon emissions.

The United States registered the biggest fall in carbon emissions, as they went down by 0.5 per cent to 4.8 gigatons due to higher renewables deployment.

Other details

The IEA report stated that oil demand grew by 1.6 per cent or 1.5 million barrels a day, more than twice the average annual rate over the past decade, driven by the transport sector and rising petrochemical demand.

Natural gas consumption also grew by 3 per cent, the maximum among all fossil fuels, with China alone accounting for nearly a third of the growth. This was largely due to abundant and relatively low-cost supplies.

The demand for coal also rose by 1 per cent from 2017, reversing declines over the previous two years, due to rises in coal-fired electricity generation, mostly in Asia.

However, renewable energy source based electricity generation rose by 6.3 per cent due to the expansion of wind, solar and hydropower. The IEA report stated that renewable energy sources had the highest growth rate of any energy source, meeting a quarter of the world’s energy demand growth.

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