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Global CO2 Emissions Rose By 1.7% Last Year, As Energy Demand Climbs

March 27, 2019
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood

 

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Energy demand worldwide grew by 2.3% last year, its fastest pace this decade, an exceptional performance driven by a robust global economy and stronger heating and cooling needs in some regions. Natural gas emerged as the fuel of choice, posting the biggest gains and accounting for 45% of the rise in energy consumption. Gas demand growth was especially strong in the United States and China.

Demand for all fuels increased, with fossil fuels meeting nearly 70% of the growth for the second year running. Solar and wind generation grew at double-digit pace, with solar alone increasing by 31%. Still, that was not fast enough to meet higher electricity demand around the world that also drove up coal use.

As a result, global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7% to 33 Gigatonnes (Gt) in 2018. Coal use in power generation alone surpassed 10 Gt, accounting for a third of the total increase. Most of that came from a young fleet of coal power plants in developing Asia. The majority of coal-fired generation capacity today is found in Asia, with 12-year-old plants on average, decades short of average lifetimes of around 50 years.

These findings are part of the International Energy Agency’s latest assessment of global energy consumption and energy-related CO2 emissions for 2018. The Global Energy & CO2 Status Report provides a high-level and up-to-date view of energy markets, including latest available data for oil, natural gas, coal, wind, solar, nuclear power, electricity, and energy efficiency.

Electricity continues to position itself as the “fuel” of the future, with global electricity demand growing by 4% in 2018 to more than 23 000 TWh. This rapid growth is pushing electricity towards a 20% share in total final consumption of energy. Increasing power generation was responsible for half of the growth in primary energy demand.

Renewables were a major contributor to this power generation expansion, accounting for nearly half of electricity demand growth. China remains the leader in renewables, both for wind and solar, followed by Europe and the United States.

Energy intensity improved by 1.3% last year, just half the rate of the period between 2014-2016. This third consecutive year of slowdown was the result of weaker energy efficiency policy implementation and strong demand growth in more energy intensive economies.

“We have seen an extraordinary increase in global energy demand in 2018, growing at its fastest pace this decade,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s Executive Director. “Last year can also be considered another golden year for gas, which accounted for almost half the growth in global energy demand. But despite major growth in renewables, global emissions are still rising, demonstrating once again that more urgent action is needed on all fronts — developing all clean energy solutions, curbing emissions, improving efficiency, and spurring investments and innovation, including in carbon capture, utilization and storage.”

Almost a fifth of the increase in global energy demand came from higher demand for heating and cooling as average winter and summer temperatures in some regions approached or exceeded historical records. Cold snaps drove demand for heating and, more significantly, hotter summer temperatures pushed up demand for cooling.

Together, China, the United States, and India accounted for nearly 70% of the rise in energy demand around the world. The United States saw the largest increase in oil and gas demand worldwide. Its gas consumption jumped 10% from the previous year, the fastest increase since the beginning of IEA records in 1971. The annual increase in US demand last year was equivalent to the United Kingdom’s current gas consumption.

Global gas demand expanded at its fastest rate since 2010, with year-on-year growth of 4.6%, the second consecutive year of strong growth, driven by higher demand and substitution from coal. Demand growth was led by the United States. Gas demand in China increased by almost 18%.

Oil demand grew 1.3% worldwide, with the United States again leading the global increase for the first time in 20 years thanks to a strong expansion in petrochemicals, rising industrial production and trucking services.

Global coal consumption rose 0.7%, with increases seen only in Asia, particularly in China, India and a few countries in South and Southeast Asia.

Nuclear also grew by 3.3% in 2018, with global generation reaching pre-Fukushima levels, mainly as a result of new additions in China and the restart of four reactors in Japan. Worldwide, nuclear plants met 9% of the increase in electricity demand.

https://www.iea.org/newsroom/news/2019/march/global-energy-demand-rose-by-23-in-2018-its-fastest-pace-in-the-last-decade.html

 

 

I can’t understand why anybody is in the slightest surprised about any of this. It was all written down in black and white on the Paris Agreement.

China, India and the rest of the developing world are only doing what their INDCs said they would.

 

Despite the usual claims about rapid growth in renewables, it is still fossil fuels which are supplying most of the increase in demand.

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Renewables hardly feature at all, outside of the backwater called Europe:

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Perhaps the most significant statement is this:

 Coal use in power generation alone surpassed 10 Gt, accounting for a third of the total increase. Most of that came from a young fleet of coal power plants in developing Asia. The majority of coal-fired generation capacity today is found in Asia, with 12-year-old plants on average, decades short of average lifetimes of around 50 years.

As I have repeatedly commented, no developing country is going to prematurely shut down modern coal power plants on a whim. Countries like India, China and other Asian nations need every bit of power they can get their hands on.

And from a financial point of view, once the capital investment has been made, it is only operating costs that are relevant.

A new study claiming that solar and wind power are cheaper than coal power, unsurprisingly uncritically reported by the Guardian this week, misses this point entirely. Just as it also misses the point that you still need to pay the fixed costs for fossil fuel standby capacity.

 

According to the IEA, CO2 emissions rose by 560 Mt, to 33.1 GtCO2. There was a similar increase in 2017. At this rate, emissions will reach 40 GtCO2 by 2030, an increase of 25% since Paris in 2015.

13 Comments
  1. quaesoveritas permalink
    March 27, 2019 12:08 pm

    “I can’t understand why anybody is in the slightest surprised about any of this. It was all written down in black and white on the Paris Agreement.”
    Quite so.
    The trouble is, the BBC didn’t report it.

  2. Colin Brooks permalink
    March 27, 2019 12:16 pm

    This report just emphasizes the huge effing elephant in the room which the government , BBC, etc, etc, refuse to acknowledge: the billions of pounds the UK spends to ‘lead the world in fighting climate change’ can not possibly achieve anything at all (even if CO2 IS the cause).

  3. Gerry, England permalink
    March 27, 2019 1:39 pm

    Another attempt to suggest that chimneys give forth only pollution with their chosen photo.

    • dave permalink
      March 27, 2019 3:59 pm

      This chimney stuff no longer does it for me.

      • Henning Nielsen permalink
        March 27, 2019 6:06 pm

        Very bad agitprop chimneys, these. The smoke is so obviously white.

  4. Peter Plail permalink
    March 27, 2019 3:36 pm

    So that is what CO2 looks like, and there was me thinking it was a transparent gas.

  5. mikewaite permalink
    March 27, 2019 5:14 pm

    So it looks as if the global economy is continuing to steam ahead, despite warnings of recession, disruption from the wildest weather this planet has ever known and millions clambering over any and every frontier.
    Reassuring.

  6. David Albert permalink
    March 27, 2019 5:25 pm

    Note that the Mona Loa record of atmospheric CO2 (https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/full.html) shows no inflection for either the emission slump of 2011 or the emission jump described in this article.
    The obvious conclusion is that atmospheric CO2 is not responsive to emissions changes and is controlled by natural forces.
    When will the IPCC acknowledge this fact?

  7. Joe Public permalink
    March 27, 2019 5:31 pm

    Yes, the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions was the resounding success the Greens & enviros wildly proclaimed at the time.

    • Henning Nielsen permalink
      March 27, 2019 6:08 pm

      But now, it is almost too late, again.
      Dear John, we are all Cooked.

  8. A man of no rank permalink
    March 28, 2019 4:57 pm

    “. . . the backwater called Europe . . .”
    Imagine for one moment that we are about to leave Europe – either via a ‘No Deal’ or a ‘Public Brexit’ vote. Which of the following, A or B, would be most accurate?
    A Free from European, the UK could follow the Climate policies of China, Brazil, India or President Trump.
    B Free from Europe but forever trapped in the Climate policies of Europe, South Australia, the United Nations or President Obama.

  9. March 28, 2019 10:28 pm

    At this rate, emissions will reach 40 GtCO2 by 2030, an increase of 25% since Paris in 2015.

    Let’s see how temperatures go in that period if those figures are anywhere near right. No significant increase = curtains for man-made warming theory. Beware data adjusters :/

  10. Felipe Grey permalink
    March 29, 2019 1:49 pm

    Hi Paul. I keep seeing references to a reduction in the number of new coal plants: https://www.statista.com/chart/17519/pre-construction-coal-power-capacity-in-development-worldwide/. Not sure what to make of it since Greens are involved.

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