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Record High Carbon Emissions: Global Increase Despite Pandemic Fallout

Daniel Kim Views  

IEA “37.4 billion tons, a 1.1% increase from the previous year”
Reasons for pre-COVID recovery in the transport sector
EU and US decline due to expansion of renewable energy

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Namdong Power Tamla Offshore Wind Power/Namdong Power

Last year, global carbon dioxide emissions hit a record high due to China’s economic recovery and increased air travel.

According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) “2023 Carbon Dioxide Emissions” report on the 15th, the total energy-related emissions in 2023 increased by 1.1% compared to the same period last year, reaching 374 billion tons (t), an all-time high.

The IEA analyzed that the increase in carbon dioxide emissions last year was not a temporary factor but a long-term trend due to structural factors. This is because the global carbon dioxide emission growth rate has remained at a relatively low level of about 0.5% per year from 2014 to 2023.

The record-high carbon dioxide emissions last year were attributed to increased air travel and the resumption of economic activities in China. These factors led to the rise in carbon dioxide emissions by 250 million tons last year, accounting for two-thirds of the total increase in emissions.

In particular, the transportation sector played a significant role in the increase in carbon emissions last year as it recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels. The IEA estimated that carbon emissions increased by 140 million tons the previous year due to the continued recovery of global aviation demand.

Also, as China resumed economic activities last year, road passenger transport increased, resulting in an additional 50 million tons of carbon emissions. Looking only at air travel and the resumption of economic activities in China, carbon emissions increased by 190 million tons.

Carbon emissions varied by country. While countries like China and India saw an increase in carbon emissions, major developed countries such as the European Union (EU) and the United States saw a decrease.

Last year, China’s carbon emissions increased by 4.7% (565 million tons) compared to the same period, recording 12.6 billion tons. This occurred at a time when China was overwhelmingly leading the global clean energy economy, and 60% of the global solar and wind power capacity expansion and increase in electric vehicle sales last year occurred in China, according to the report.

On the other hand, the EU and the United States saw decreased carbon emissions due to the expansion of renewable energy. The EU reduced its carbon emissions by 220 million tons last year. For the first time, the EU’s wind power generation exceeded gas and coal power generation. Last year, coal power generation decreased by 27%, and gas power generation reduced by 15%.

The United States also saw a decrease in carbon emissions by 190 million tons. The transition from coal to gas greatly contributed to the reduction of carbon emissions and the distribution of renewable energy was rapidly implemented.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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