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Growth of clean energy limited rise in global emissions in 2023, reports IEA

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Energy Global,

Global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose less strongly in 2023 than the year before even as total energy demand growth accelerated, new International Energy Agency analysis shows, with continued expansion of solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, nuclear power, and electric cars helping the world avoid greater use of fossil fuels. Without clean energy technologies, the global increase in CO2 emissions in the last five years would have been three times larger.

Emissions increased by 410 million t, or 1.1%, in 2023 – compared with a rise of 490 million t the year before – taking them to a record level of 37.4 billion t. An exceptional shortfall in hydropower due to extreme droughts – in China, the US, and several other economies – resulted in over 40% of the rise in emissions in 2023 as countries turned largely to fossil fuel alternatives to plug the gap. Had it not been for the unusually low hydropower output, global CO2 emissions from electricity generation would have declined last year, making the overall rise in energy-related emissions significantly smaller.

The findings come from the IEA’s annual review of global energy-related CO2 emissions – and the inaugural edition of a new series, the Clean Energy Market Monitor, which provides timely tracking of clean energy deployment for a select group of technologies and outlines the implications for global energy markets more broadly.

From 2019 – 2023, growth in clean energy was twice as large as that of fossil fuels, providing the opportunity to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels this decade. For example, the deployment of wind and solar PV in electricity systems worldwide since 2019 has been sufficient to avoid an amount of annual coal consumption equivalent to that of India and Indonesia’s electricity sectors combined – and to dent annual natural gas demand by an amount equivalent to Russia’s pre-war natural gas exports to the EU.



For more news and technical articles from the global renewable industry, read the latest issue of Energy Global magazine.

Energy Global's Winter 2023 issue

The Winter 2023 issue of Energy Global hosts an array of technical articles weather analysis, geothermal solutions, energy storage technology, and more. This issue also features a regional report looking at the future of renewables in North America, and a report from Théodore Reed-Martin, Editorial Assistant, Energy Global, on how Iceland utilises its unique geology for renewable energy.

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