IEA Report Says Fossil Fuels Less Used in 2023

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by KnowESG
KnowESG_IEA Report Says Fossil Fuels Less Used in 2023
Image courtesy of IEA

In 2023, global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from energy sources went up less than the year before despite a faster increase in overall energy demand.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) found that the continued growth of clean energy sources like solar power, wind energy, nuclear power, and electric cars helped prevent even more use of fossil fuels. Without these clean energy options, CO2 emissions would have risen three times more over the past five years.

Emissions rose by 410 million tonnes, or 1.1%, in 2023, compared to a rise of 490 million tonnes in the previous year, reaching a new high of 37.4 billion tonnes. A big reason for this increase was a lack of hydropower due to severe droughts in places like China, the United States, and other countries.

This led countries to rely more on fossil fuels to make up for the shortfall. Without this drop in hydropower, emissions from making electricity would have actually gone down last year, making the overall rise in emissions much smaller.

These findings come from the IEA's yearly report on global CO2 emissions and a new report called the Clean Energy Market Monitor, which keeps track of how quickly clean energy technologies are being adopted.

Advanced economies, even as their economies grew, saw a big drop in their CO2 emissions in 2023. Their emissions fell to the lowest level in 50 years, with coal use dropping to levels not seen since the early 1900s. This drop happened because of more use of renewables, switching from coal to natural gas, using energy more efficiently, and less industrial activity. Last year was also the first time that at least half of the electricity in advanced economies came from low-emission sources like renewables and nuclear power.

Fatih Birol, the head of the IEA, said that despite challenges over the past five years, the transition to cleaner energy has stayed strong. He noted that even though global energy use went up a lot in 2023, the transition to cleaner energy still managed to reduce emissions. Birol stressed the importance of the commitments made by almost 200 countries at a recent climate conference, saying that more work is needed to help developing countries invest in clean energy.

From 2019 to 2023, the use of clean energy grew twice as fast as the use of fossil fuels. The IEA found that using more clean energy technologies over the past five years has helped limit the need for fossil fuels, giving us a chance to move away from them even faster in the coming years.

Using more wind and solar power since 2019 has helped avoid using as much coal each year as both India and Indonesia combined, and it has also reduced the demand for natural gas by as much as Russia's exports to the European Union. More people buying electric cars also played a big part in keeping oil use from going back to pre-pandemic levels.

But while clean energy is growing fast in rich countries and China, the IEA says that we need to do more to help other countries adopt clean energy. In 2023, most new solar and wind power plants and electric cars were installed in rich countries and China. Not all clean energy technologies did well in 2023. Heat pumps, for example, did not sell as much because people had less money to spend. The IEA says we need to keep supporting these kinds of technologies to make sure everyone can switch to clean energy.

In China, clean energy grew in 2023, with as much new solar power added as in the rest of the world in 2022. But because of a bad year for hydropower and the economy getting back to normal after the pandemic, China's emissions went up by around 565 million tonnes.

In India, emissions went up by about 190 million tonnes because the economy was doing well. A weaker monsoon season meant people used more electricity, and there was less hydropower. Even with this increase, India's emissions per person are still lower than the global average.

The IEA gets its data from several sources, including national governments, power companies, and weather reports. They use this data to figure out how much CO2 is being emitted and how fast clean energy is growing.

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Source: IEA

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