Emissions growth in United States, Asia fueled record carbon levels in 2018

Emissions growth in United States, Asia fueled record carbon levels in 2018

Greenhouse gas emissions from energy production rose strongly again previous year, according to new data from the International Energy Agency, with a young fleet of coal-fired power plants in Asia accounting for a large proportion of the increase. Renewable energy sources were a major contributing factor to this power generation expansion, accounting for almost half of all electricity growth around the world in 2018.

Demand for all fuels increased, with fossil fuels meeting almost 70 per cent of the growth for the second year running.

Coal use in power generation alone surpassed 10 Gt, accounting for a third of the total increase. "China, India, and the United States accounted for 85% of the net increase in emissions, while emissions declined for Germany, Japan, Mexico, France and the United Kingdom", IEA said in its report.

"According to the findings that are part of the International Energy Agency's latest assessment of global energy consumption and energy-related Carbon dioxide emissions for 2018, we are seeing a significant increase in the consumption of electricity, especially in highly developed countries", said Landry Ninteretse, 350 Africa Regional Team Leader, speaking via email.

"While emissions from all fossil fuels increased, the power sector accounted for almost two-thirds of emissions growth".

The rise was fueled by a 2.3 percent increase in demand for energy worldwide. Solar and wind generation grew at double-digit pace - solar's growth was 31% - but natural gas was the favored source of energy generation in 2018, accounting for 45% of the rise in energy consumption.

Those energy sources met one-quarter of 2018's global demand growth for energy, but the pace is still simply not fast enough to offset the huge upticks in demand, including humans' indoor heating and cooling needs amid a shifting climate.

India's energy demand outpaced global demand growth in 2018 according to the International Energy Agency. Global energy consumption was up 2.3% in 2018, roughly double the average annual growth rate since 2010. Solar deployment increased by more than 30% on the year, while wind was up 12%.

CO2 emissions increased in China (+2.5 percent), the U.S. (+3.1 percent), and India (+4.5 percent). This has been led by strong growth in the United States.

"About a fifth of the growth in electricity demand a year ago can be attributed to weather conditions", it says.

Renewable energy demand rose by 4 percent during the year, while demand for natural gas rose 4.6 percent. US emissions grew 3.1 percent in 2018, reversing decreases in 2016 and 2017.

Surging energy consumption fueled by strong economic growth in the United States and Asia was the primary cause of the emissions spike, the agency said. India's emissions growth this year 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. This would seem to suggest that Western coal policies are slowly beginning to have an impact on the overall.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol told Bloomberg: "We have seen spectacular growth of the economy in the U.S. We have seen several new petrochemical projects coming online". With a 38% market share, it remains the largest source of electricity generation.

"Last year can also be considered another golden year for gas. but despite major growth in renewables, global emissions are still rising, demonstrating once again that more urgent action is needed on all fronts", he added.

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