Despite Surge in Renewables, Global Carbon Pollution Hits Record High

Despite Surge in Renewables, Global Carbon Pollution Hits Record High

Global carbon pollution from energy hit a record high last year, driven partly by increased fossil fuel use in countries where droughts restricted hydropower production, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) report.

Steep cuts in carbon emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, will be needed in the coming years if targets to limit a global rise in temperatures and prevent runaway climate change are to be met, scientists have said.

“Far from falling rapidly — as is required to meet the global climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement — CO2 emissions reached a new record high,” the IEA said in the report.

Global emissions from energy rose by 410 million metric tons, or 1.1 per cent, in 2023 to 37.4 billion metric tons, the IEA analysis reported by Reuters showed.

A global expansion in clean technology such as wind, solar and electric vehicles, helped to reduce the rate of emissions growth, which was 1.3 per cent in 2022. But a reopening of China’s economy, increased fossil fuel use in countries with low hydropower output and a recovery in the aviation sector led to an overall rise, the IEA said in its report.

Moves to replace lost hydropower generation due to extreme droughts accounted for around 40 per cent of the emissions rise, or 170 million tonnes of CO2, it said.

“Without this effect, emissions from the global electricity sector would have fallen in 2023,” the IEA said.

Energy-related emissions in the United States fell by 4.1 per cent, with the bulk of the reduction coming from the electricity sector, according to the report.

In the European Union, emissions from energy fell by almost 9 per cent last year, driven by a surge in renewable power generation and a slump in both coal and gas power generation.

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