Global Energy & Carbon Dioxide Emissions | 27 Mar 2019

Recently the International Energy Agency (IEA) has released its second Global Energy and CO2 Status Report which provides a snapshot of global trends and developments across fuels, renewable sources, and energy efficiency and carbon emissions, in 2018.

  • This is for the first time that the IEA assessed the impact of fossil fuel use on global temperature increases.
    • It found that CO2 emitted from coal combustion was responsible for over 0.3°C of the 1°C increase in global average annual surface temperatures above pre-industrial levels.
    • This makes coal the single largest source of global temperature increase.
  • The first edition of this report was released in 2017.

Global Findings

  • Global energy consumption in 2018 increased at nearly twice the average rate of growth since 2010, driven by a robust global economy (expanded by 3.7% in 2018) and higher heating and cooling needs in some parts of the world.
    • China, the United States, and India together accounted for nearly 70% of the rise in energy demand. These countries also accounted for 85% of the net increase in emissions.
    • Emissions declined for Germany, Japan, Mexico, France and the United Kingdom.
    • Weather conditions in 2018 were also responsible for increase in global energy demand as average winter and summer temperatures in some regions approached or exceeded historical records.
  • The CO2 emissions stagnated between 2014 and 2016, even as the global economy continued to expand.
    • This decoupling was primarily the result of strong energy efficiency improvements and low-carbon technology deployment, leading to a decline in coal demand.
    • But the dynamics changed in 2017 and 2018. Higher economic growth was not met by higher energy productivity, lower-carbon options did not scale fast enough to meet the rise in demand.
  • The natural gas which emerged as the fuel of choice for the year 2018, accounting for nearly 45% of the increase in total energy demand.
    • Demand for all fuels rose, with fossil fuels meeting nearly 70% of the growth for the second year running.
    • Renewables grew at double-digit pace, but still not fast enough to meet the increase in demand for electricity around the world.
    • Nuclear also grew by 3.3% in 2018, mainly as a result of new capacity in China and the restart of reactors in Japan. Worldwide, nuclear generation met 7% of the increase in energy demand.

India Specific Findings

  • India’s energy demand outpaced global demand growth in 2018.
  • India emitted 2,299 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018, a 4.8% rise from 2018 led by coal (power generation) and oil (transport), the two biggest contributors to pollution.
    • Although the nation’s per capita release remained low at 40% of the global average.
    • India’s emissions growth in 2018 was higher than that of the United States and China — the two biggest emitters in the world — and this was primarily due to a rise in coal consumption.
  • India’s energy intensity improvement declined 3% from 2018 even as its renewable energy installations increased 10.6% from 2018.
    • It can be noted that as per its commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, India has promised to reduce the emissions intensity of its economy by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
    • It has also committed to having 40% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030 and, as part of this, install 100 GW of solar power by 2022.
  • These findings raise questions about the effectiveness of the global fight against climate change amid rising energy demand.