Clean Energy Growth Led to Lower than Estimated CO2 Emissions in 2022: IEA

Global energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 0.9% or 321 million tons in 2022


Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose by under 1% during the year 2022, which is lower than initially expected, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report.

The impact of the increase in use of coal and oil amid the energy crisis was offset by the growth of solar, wind, and electric vehicles (EVs), heat pumps, and energy efficiency, the report said.

The report covers CO2 emissions from all energy combustion and industrial processes, providing a picture of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in 2022.

Last October, the IEA had forecast that CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion globally would grow by just under 1% this year as the strong expansion of renewables and electric vehicles prevent a sharper rise.

Emissions remained on an unsustainable growth trajectory, calling for stronger actions to accelerate the clean energy transition.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said without clean energy, the growth in CO2 emissions would have been nearly three times as high.

Global energy-related CO2 emissions grew in 2022 by 0.9% or 321 million tons, reaching for the first time a high of more than 36.8 billion tons.

While extreme weather events, including droughts and heatwaves, as well as an unusually large number of nuclear power plants being offline, contributed to the rise in emissions, an additional 550 million tons of emissions were avoided by increased deployment of clean energy technologies.

CO2 emissions from coal grew by 1.6% as the global energy crisis continued.

While the increase in coal emissions was only around one-quarter of 2021’s rise, it still exceeded the last decade’s average growth rate.

The increase in emissions from coal more than offset the 1.6% decline in emissions from natural gas as supply continued to tighten following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and in response, European businesses, and citizens put efforts to cut their gas use.

Additionally, CO2 emissions from oil grew more than those from coal, increasing by 2.5%.

Around half of the year-on-year increase in oil emissions came from aviation as air travel continued to rebound from pandemic lows.

Region-Wise Emissions

China’s emissions were broadly flat in 2022 as strict Covid-19 measures, and declining construction activity led to weaker economic growth and reductions in industrial and transport emissions.

The European Union’s emissions fell by 2.5%, owing to record deployment of renewables helping ensure the use of coal was not as high as some observers had anticipated.

A mild start to the European winter and energy savings measures in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine also contributed.

In the United States, emissions grew by 0.8% as buildings increased their energy consumption to cope with extreme temperatures.

Excluding China, emissions from Asia’s emerging and developing economies increased by 4.2%, reflecting their rapid economic and energy demand growth.

In December 2022, the IEA said that energy efficiency actions taken since 2000, such as investments in building insulation and efficient cars, have ensured that the energy bills in IEA countries in 2022 are set to be $680 billion less than what they would have been otherwise.