Global carbon dioxide emissions reach record high in 2023, says IEA.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported on Friday that global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reached an all-time high last year, largely driven by increased fossil fuel consumption in regions where droughts hindered hydropower production.

Scientists have emphasized the urgent need for significant reductions in CO2 emissions, particularly from fossil fuel combustion, in the coming years to achieve the targets outlined in the Paris Agreement and mitigate the risk of catastrophic climate change.

Contrary to the necessary rapid decline required to meet global climate objectives, CO2 emissions surged to a new peak, as stated in the IEA’s report.

According to the IEA analysis, global energy-related emissions increased by 410 million tonnes, or 1.1 percent, in 2023, reaching 37.4 billion tonnes.

While the expansion of clean technologies such as wind, solar, and electric vehicles helped temper emissions growth, which stood at 1.3 percent in 2022, a resurgence in China’s economic activity, heightened fossil fuel usage in regions with limited hydropower capacity, and a rebound in the aviation sector collectively contributed to the overall increase.

Approximately 40 percent of the emissions rise, equivalent to 170 million tonnes of CO2, was attributed to efforts to compensate for the loss of hydropower generation due to extreme droughts, according to the IEA.

The United States witnessed a notable 4.1 percent decrease in energy-related emissions, primarily driven by reductions in the electricity sector, the report noted.

In the European Union, energy-related emissions declined by nearly 9 percent in 2023, fueled by a surge in renewable energy production and a decline in both coal and gas power generation.

Conversely, China experienced a 5.2 percent increase in energy-related emissions, with rising energy demand accompanying the country’s post-COVID-19 recovery.

However, China also accounted for approximately 60 percent of the global additions of solar, wind power, and electric vehicles in 2023, underscoring its significant contribution to renewable energy adoption, as highlighted by the IEA.

Globally, electric vehicles constituted one-fifth of new car sales in 2023, reaching 14 million units, marking a 35 percent increase from 2022 levels.