26 March 2019: A report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) finds that in 2018 global energy demand grew by 2.3%, the fastest pace in a decade, leading to 1.7% of growth in energy-related CO2 emissions. While the share of renewable energy sources in meeting new energy demand keeps growing and energy efficiency continues to increase, the rates of improvement are far below those required to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The 2018 edition of the IEA ‘Global Energy and CO2 Status Report’ summarizes global trends in energy demand and the use of fuel sources including fossil fuels, renewable sources and nuclear energy. It also tracks changes in global greenhouse gas emissions and changes in energy efficiency. Key findings of the report include:

  • Global total energy consumption grew by 2.3% in 2018, twice as fast as the average rate over the last ten years. The increase was driven by solid growth of the global economy and increased demand for heating and cooling in some regions.
  • Increased use of fossil fuels covered 70% of the global increase in energy demand with natural gas covering almost 45% of total demand growth. Renewable energy sources contributed approximately one quarter of global energy consumption growth; nuclear energy was responsible for 7%.
  • Global energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 1.7% in 2018. With 30%, coal combustion represented the largest share of the increase.
  • Demand for electricity grew faster than for all other energy sources with an increase of 4%. The share of electricity in global energy consumption reached 20% in 2018. Renewable energy sources contributed almost half of the increase in electricity generation, followed by coal, natural gas, nuclear energy and oil-fired electricity generation. CO2 Emissions from the electricity sector increased by 2.5%.
  • Global energy efficiency continued to improve with energy intensity falling by 1.3%; however, the rate of improvement has slowed for the fourth consecutive year. While energy efficiency remained the largest contributor to emissions abatement, it offset 40% less of CO2 emissions than in 2017.

The report also provides detailed analyses of energy demand growth by region and by fuel source. Overall, the report shows that the growth in energy-related emissions continues to decouple from the rate of economic growth. The rate of decoupling is slowing mostly because of lower improvements in energy efficiency.

“More urgent action is needed on all fronts.” – Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Secretary

According to a UNFCCC Secretariat press release, the report shows that despite the accelerating growth in renewable energy sources, global trends continue to run counter the objective of the Paris Agreement to limit the global average temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels. Achieving the 1.5-degree Celsius target would require global GHG emissions to peak in 2020 followed by a rapid decline. IEA Executive Secretary Fatih Briol stated that the continued rise in global emissions demonstrates “once again that more urgent action is needed on all fronts — developing all clean energy solutions, curbing emissions, improving efficiency, and spurring investments and innovation, including in carbon capture, utilization and storage.” [IEA Press Release] [UNFCC Press Release] [Publication: Global Energy and CO2 Status Report] [Online Version]