In a year marked by war, inflation, and massive swings in energy prices, carbon dioxide emissions increased almost 1 percent in 2022. This was lower than many climate scientists expected, while still hitting their highest levels of any year on record, according to a new International Energy Agency (IEA) analysis published on Thursday.
For comparison, emissions shot up a whopping 6 percent in 2021, but that was after the pandemic put a damper on global carbon use in 2020. The 1 percent rise in 2022 was also well below the global economic growth rate of 3.2 percent, which could suggest that economic growth and carbon use are once again decoupling. This was the trend for decades, but then the economic recovery of 2021 used more carbon than expected.
As for 2022, a combination of extreme weather events such as droughts and heatwaves helped push up fossil fuel use. However, some of these gains were offset by adoption of clean energy technologies across the globe.
“The impacts of the energy crisis didn’t result in the major increase in global emissions that was initially feared — and this is thanks to the outstanding growth of renewables, EVs, heat pumps and energy efficient technologies," said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
However, he noted that fossil fuel companies have yet to be brought in line with the world's climate targets.
"International and national fossil fuel companies are making record revenues and need to take their share of responsibility, in line with their public pledges to meet climate goals," Birol added. "It’s critical that they review their strategies to make sure they’re aligned with meaningful emissions reductions.”
Here are some of the key data points:
- CO2 emissions from coal jumped 1.6 percent
- CO2 emissions from natural gas fell 1.6 percent
- CO2 emissions from oil were up 2.5 percent
- China's emissions were flat in 2022
- EU emissions dropped 2.5 percent