The International Energy Agency said Wednesday that it expects carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels to rise again this year, but by much less than in 2021 due to the growth in renewable power and electric cars.
Last year saw a strong rebound in carbon dioxide emissions — the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming — after the global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
The Paris-based IEA said CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are on course to rise by almost 1% in 2022 compared to the previous year. That’s nearly 300 million metric tons of CO2 more than in 2021, when the burning of gas, oil and coal released about 33.5 billion tons of CO2.
“This year’s increase is driven by power generation and by the aviation sector, as air travel rebounds from pandemic lows,” the agency said.
While coal emissions grew 2% as countries that previously imported natural gas from Russia scrambled for other energy sources, this didn’t outweigh the expansion of solar and wind power, which saw a record rise in 2022.
Oil use also increased as pandemic-related restrictions eased, resulting in more people commuting to work and a rise in air travel.
“The rise in global CO2 emissions this year would be much larger — more than tripling to reach close to 1 billion tons — were it not for the major deployments of renewable energy technologies and electric vehicles around the world,” it said.
Emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases need to decline drastically in the coming decades to keep global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit), the ambitious threshold agreed in the 2015 Paris climate pact. Scientists say there is little room left for maneuver because temperatures have already risen by about 1.2 Celsius (2.2 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times.
A report published Wednesday by the environmental think tank World Resources Institute found countries’ current plans for cutting emissions would see them decline just 7% by 2030 from 2019 levels. The group said emissions would need to drop by 43% over that period to meet the Paris goal.
Stepping up global efforts to reduce emissions will be one of the topics at next month’s United Nations climate meeting in Egypt.