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Global Carbon Emissions Resume Rise

flaring emissions

After three flat years global carbon emissions, carbon emissions are now on the rise again, hitting the highest ever at 32.5 gigatons. This was a 1.4-percent annual increase, the International Energy agency said in its 2018 Global Energy and CO2 Status Report.

The increase comes as a surprise to many given the major push into renewables in many parts of the world. Indeed, some of these parts saw a decline in CO2 emissions, notably the United States, the IEA said, as well as the UK, Japan, and Mexico.

Still, energy demand grew in other parts of the globe, driving increased use of fossil fuels. Crude oil demand grew by 1.6 percent last year, which should be quite disheartening for environmentalists, as this growth rate was twice as high as the annual average for the last ten years.

The main culprits were, unsurprisingly, the two powerhouses of Asia: China and India, which drove the 2.1-percent increase in global energy demand. That compared with 0.9 percent a year earlier – the average annual energy demand growth rate for the five years to 2015.

This energy demand growth was too fast for renewables to be able to respond to it in a more substantial way: fossil fuels accounted for 72 percent of the higher energy demand, versus 25 percent for renewables. China and India together accounted for 40 percent of the higher energy demand.

Related: Egypt: The Next Natural Gas Hotspot

China did well on the renewables front, though. Together with the United States, it contributed around half of all new renewable energy capacity. The European Union came third, followed by India and Japan. The increase in renewable energy generation capacity last year was the highest among energy sources, with wind alone accounting for 36 percent of the total additional capacity.

On the flip side, improvements in energy efficiency slowed down in 2017, the IEA said, blaming it on slower pro-efficiency policy adoption and stringency, and lower energy costs, discouraging advancement in efficiency improvements.

Unfortunately, the IEA’s figures support the argument that the Paris Agreement targets are unrealistic unless a radical global change in energy policies is enacted. The chances of this happening, however, are remote.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com



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  • Mamdouh G Salameh on March 22 2018 said:
    The rise in global carbon emissions is attributed to two major factors: the first is low oil prices since the price crash in 2014; and the second is a robust global demand for oil and other hydrocarbons.

    Low oil prices pushed the global demand for oil by 1.6% or 1.5 mbd in 2017 whilst demand for other hydrocarbons such as natural gas and coal grew by 2.6%.

    And whilst the United States, China and India led the world in the growth of renewable energy supply, the two powerhouses: China and India increased their crude oil demand by 3.3% and 7.8% respectively. China and India accounted in 2017 for 18% of global oil demand.

    This shows that low oil prices impact very adversely on the global economy and also on the growth rate of renewable energy. It also shows the hurdles that renewable energy and also electric vehicles (EVs) have to overcome in coming years before having a meaningful impact on the demand for oil and other hydrocarbons.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London

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