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Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels will increase by less than 1% this year

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Finally, some good news in the battle against greenhouse gases: Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are on track to increase by less than 1% this year.

This is despite widespread concerns about a return to coal, oil and gas amid a global energy crisis and Russia’s war in Ukraine. We have electric vehicles and renewable energy intake to thank for the surprisingly small increase.

The International Energy Agency released its forecast in a report Wednesday showing that CO2 emissions are on track to reach 33.8 billion tons by 2022, an increase of 300 million metric tons. This is a much smaller increase than the jump of nearly 2 billion tons in 2021 as the world recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s increase comes largely from the aviation industry, which has been severely affected by the pandemic.

“The global energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed many countries to use other energy sources to replace the natural gas supplies that Russia has been holding from the market. The encouraging news is that sun and wind are filling most of the gap and the increase in coal seems relatively small and temporary, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement.

“This means that CO2 emissions are growing much less rapidly this year than some fear, and that government policy actions are driving real structural changes in the energy economy. These changes will accelerate thanks to major clean energy policy plans that have developed around the world in recent months.”

Without the massive deployment of renewable and electric vehicles globally, the increase in emissions would be much larger, potentially up to 1 billion tonnes, the IEA said.

Coal demand has soared as Russia’s war in Ukraine has led to higher gas prices, and CO2 emissions from coal-fired power generation, largely from Asia, are expected to rise by more than 200 million tonnes, or 2%, this year.

But the increase in emissions from coal is “relatively small” and “significantly outweighed by the expansion of renewables,” according to the report.

The world saw record growth in solar and wind power this year, producing more than 700 terawatt-hours of energy. That’s enough to feed nearly 67 million American homes for a year.

And despite the significant drought affecting much of the Northern Hemisphere, the overall picture for hydro is still positive – global hydropower production has increased this year and is expected to contribute more than a fifth to growth in renewable energy.

The global outlook comes a day after a separate report showed the EU has generated a quarter of its power from renewable sources since Russia launched its war.

The IEA predicts EU emissions will decrease this year, although coal use by the bloc is increasing. Some EU countries are using more coal in response to the increase in gas prices and Russia’s cut off supplies to some member states.

The report comes less than three weeks before the start of COP27 climate talks in Egypt, where countries are expected to ensure that their emissions reduction plans are in line with the key targets of the Paris Agreement: limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, but preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial times .

The IEA’s estimate is more rosy than expected for the talks, but scientists warn that emissions will need to decline rapidly to keep the 1.5 degree target in sight.