CO2 emissions will increase less than 1% this year, according to the IEA

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) will rise this year less than 1%, far from the strong pull of 2021, due to the economic slowdown, but also largely due to the acceleration in the deployment of renewable energies, which are containing the resource to coal, and electric vehicles.

In an analysis published this Wednesday based on the latest available data, the International Energy Agency (IEA) calculates that emissions of the main greenhouse gas will rise by about 300 million tons to 33.8 billion.

This increase is well below the almost 2,000 million tons of 2021, which was a consequence of the strong economic recovery after the global covid crisis and the massive use of fossil fuels.

The IEA points out that, beyond the negative effect on the global economy of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the rise in CO2 emissions in 2022 would be much greater if such a significant expansion of renewable energies were not taking place.

Specifically, the generation of electricity from renewable sources is expected to increase by more than 700 terawatt hours, thanks mainly to the new photovoltaic and wind energy installations (two thirds of the total), and to a lesser extent due to the expansion of hydroelectricity. (one fifth).

This is limiting the growth in the use of coal (the fossil fuel that generates the most CO2), which is expected to be 2% this year, especially in Asia.

And this despite the fact that in some countries coal is becoming an alternative to gas due to the rise in prices of this fuel that has occurred with the war in Ukraine.

Oil is the other side of the coin, since its demand will be the one that will progress the most among fossil fuels and will contribute to the increase in CO2 emissions in 2022 with some 180 million tons more than last year. That is, more than half of the total.

The reason is the lifting of many restrictions that had been imposed by covid, which are reactivating the transport sector, and in particular in aviation.

The aviation sector will be responsible for three quarters of the increase in emissions generated by oil, although this year they will continue to be 20% below those generated before the pandemic.

In the European Union, CO2 emissions will decrease this year despite an increase in coal that is expected to be temporary. New renewables projects there should raise installed capacities by about 50 gigawatts in 2023.

In China, they are going to be stalled by a combination of several factors, including the economic slowdown, the impact of the drought on hydroelectric production, and the commissioning of many solar and wind installations.

For the executive director of the IEA, Fatih Birol, the fact that the rebound in coal seems to be “relatively small and temporary” and that solar and wind energy are filling “much of the gap” in the gas that Russia now does not supply to Europe is “encouraging news”.

“This means – adds Birol – that CO2 emissions are growing much less rapidly this year than some feared, and that the political measures of governments are promoting real structural changes”.