Despite concerns about the consequences of the current energy crisis, global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the burning of fossil fuels are expected to grow by just under 1% this year, only a small fraction of their increase last year, as the strong expansion of renewables. and electric vehicles avoid very steep climbs.
A new analysis by the IEA of the latest data from around the world shows that these CO2 emissions are on track to increase by nearly 300 million tonnes in 2022 to 33.8 billion tonnes – a much smaller increase than their jump of around 2 billion tonnes in 2021 . The result of the world’s rapid recovery from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. This year’s increase is driven by electricity generation and the aviation sector, as air travel is slowed by the pandemic.
The increase in global CO2 emissions this year would have been much greater – more than tripled to reach close to 1 billion tons – if it weren’t for the massive deployment of renewable energy technologies and electric vehicles (EVs) around the world. Although the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has increased global coal demand by 2022 by making natural gas more expensive, the small increase in coal emissions has been offset by the expansion of renewables. Global energy trends have also been affected this year by the impact of the Russian war on the global economy, which has significantly dampened economic growth expectations, particularly in Europe.
The net result is that the CO2 intensity of the world’s energy supply is set to improve slightly in 2022, resuming a multi-year trend of steady improvement that was interrupted last year by the deep economic recovery from the Covid crisis. The expected improvement this year contrasts with what happened after the global financial crisis of 2008, which saw a sharp drop in the CO2 intensity of the energy supply for several years after the first economic shock.
“The worldwide energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused many countries to rush to use other sources of energy to replace the natural gas that Russia has seized from the market. The encouraging news is that solar and wind are filling the big gap, and the increase in coal appears to be small and temporary,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol. “This means that CO2 emissions are growing a little faster this year than some people fear – and policy actions – programs by governments are driving real change in the energy economy. That shift is set to accelerate thanks to major clean energy policy initiatives that have advanced around the world in recent months. “
Solar PV and wind are expected to increase global renewable electricity production by more than 700 terawatt hours (TWh) by 2022, the largest annual increase on record. Despite this increase, global CO2 emissions would be over 600 million tons higher this year. The rapid deployment of solar and wind is on track to account for two-thirds of the growth in renewable electricity generation. Despite the challenging situation facing hydropower in many regions due to drought this year, global hydropower production is increasing year on year, contributing more than one-fifth of the expected growth in renewable energy.
While electricity generation from wind and solar PV grows more than any other source by 2022, coal is expected to post the next biggest increase as some countries revert to coal use in response to rising natural gas prices. Overall, global CO2 emissions from coal-fired power are expected to grow by more than 200 million tons, or 2%, this year, led by growth in Asia.
The European Union’s CO2 emissions are on track to decline this year despite increased coal emissions. The increase in European coal consumption is expected to be short-lived, with a strong pipeline of new renewable energy projects estimated to add about 50 gigawatts of capacity by 2023. in 2022. In China, CO2 emissions are expected to remain broadly flat this year, reflecting a mix of different forces at work, including weak economic growth, the effects of drought on hydropower, and greater deployment of solar and wind.
Along with hydropower challenges in other regions, the world’s low-emissions electricity supply has been hit hard by a series of nuclear power plant shutdowns, which are set to reduce global nuclear power output by more than 80 TWh. This is largely due to more than half of France’s nuclear fleet being out of service within a year. The decline in nuclear power generation worldwide has contributed to the increased use of coal and oil to generate electricity. The use of natural gas in the world is expected to decrease after Ukraine’s attack on Russia, resulting in a decrease in CO2 emissions of about 40 million tons by 2022.
Demand for oil is set to grow more than any other fossil fuel by 2022, with oil-related CO2 emissions rising by around 180 million tonnes. This is mainly driven by the transport sector as travel restrictions have been lifted and pre-pandemic travel and travel routes have resumed. Airlines are expected to contribute about three quarters of the increase in emissions, mainly due to the increase in international air travel. However, emissions from the air sector are still only about 80% of their pre-pandemic levels.
Uncertainty in global natural gas markets will continue to shape many major energy trends throughout this year and into 2023. However, promising signs of a lasting change in the CO2 intensity of global energy are visible in 2022 – and are set to be reinforced by a large increase in government support for clean energy investment, particularly in the US Inflation Reduction Act, and in decarbonisation plans such as the package of – European Union’s Fit for 55 and Japan’s Green Transformation (GX) plan, with clean energy targets. China and India.
The effects of recent policies on energy security and global emissions trends will be analyzed in depth by the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2022which will be released on 27 October.