Fossil fuel use, emissions at record high in 2023


Growing demand for fossil fuel despite the scaling up of renewables could be a sticking point for the transition to lower carbon energy. — Reuters

LONDON: Global fossil fuel consumption and energy emissions hit all-time highs in 2023, even as fossil fuels’ share of the global energy mix decreased slightly on the year, the industry’s Statistical Review of World Energy report says.

Growing demand for fossil fuel despite the scaling up of renewables could be a sticking point for the transition to lower carbon energy as global temperature increases reach 1.5°C, the threshold beyond which scientists say impacts such as temperature rise, drought and flooding will become more extreme.

“We hope that this report will help governments, world leaders and analysts move forward, clear-eyed about the challenge that lies ahead,” Romain Debarre of consultancy Kearney said.

Last year was the first full year of rerouted Russian energy flows away from the West following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, and also the first full year without major movement restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Overall global primary energy consumption hit an all-time high of 620 exajoules, the report said, as emissions exceeded 40 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide for the first time.

“In a year where we have seen the contribution of renewables reaching a new record high, ever increasing global energy demand means the share coming from fossil fuels has remained virtually unchanged,” Simon Virley of consultancy KPMG said.

The report recorded shifting trends in fossil fuel use in different regions. In Europe, for example, the fossil-fuel share of energy fell below 70% for the first time since the industrial revolution.

“In advanced economies, we observe signs of demand for fossil fuels peaking, contrasting with economies in the Global South for whom economic development and improvements in quality of life continue to drive fossil growth,” Energy Institute chief executive Nick Wayth said.

Industry body the Energy Institute, together with consultancies KPMG and Kearney, has published the annual report since 2023.

They took over from BP last year, which had authored the report, a benchmark for energy professionals, since the 1950s.

Fossil fuel accounted for almost all demand growth in India in 2023, the report said, while in China fossil fuel use rose 6% to a new high.

But China also accounted for over half of global additions in renewable energy generation last year.

“China adding more renewables than the rest of the world put together is remarkable,” KPMG’s Virley told reporters. — Reuters

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