Carbon Dioxide Emissions Shatter Record Despite Green Investments

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Global carbon dioxide emissions hit a record high of more than 36 billion tons in 2022, although emissions grew more slowly than anticipated, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported Thursday.

Emissions from coal surged by 1.6%, to a record breaking 15.5 billion tons, as Europe turned to coal after Russia slashed exports of natural gas following its invasion of Ukraine, the IEA reported. Growth in renewable energy sources mitigated more than half a billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, helping keep emissions growth below expectations, and accounted for roughly 90% of all new power generation. (RELATED: Slash Your Meat Consumption To Help Gov’t Hit Climate Goals, Advisory Group Suggests)

“The impacts of the energy crisis didn’t result in the major increase in global emissions that was initially feared – and this is thanks to the outstanding growth of renewables, EVs, heat pumps and energy efficient technologies. Without clean energy, the growth in CO2 emissions would have been nearly three times as high,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a press release. “However, we still see emissions growing from fossil fuels, hindering efforts to meet the world’s climate targets.”

Overall, worldwide emissions grew by 0.9%, after climbing 6% in 2021, the IEA reported. Emissions growth spiked in 2021 as countries left lockdowns and economic activity rebounded, prompting concerns that emissions would continue to climb aggressively in 2022, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The IEA predicted in 2022 that renewables would overtake coal as the dominant source of electricity generation by 2025, according to CNBC.

Emissions were held back in part due to weak economic growth and strict COVID-19 lockdowns in China, which caused emissions in the country to nudge down by 0.2%, and a 2.5% plunge in emissions from the European Union as combined electricity generation from wind and solar exceeded gas, the IEA reported. The U.S. saw a gain of 0.8%, roughly 36 million tons, driven primarily by increased consumption of natural gas to provide electricity during heat waves.

Developing nations in Asia accounted for roughly 200 million tons of increased emissions, a 4.2% surge, according to the IEA report. More than half of all emissions in the region came from coal.

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