On a High Note: 2022's CO2 Emissions Lower Than Expected

On a High Note: 2022's CO2 Emissions Lower Than Expected

After a brief dip during the pandemic, CO2 emissions skyrocketed back up by 2 billion tons in 2021. As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, projections for 2022 looked equally, if not more dire, with coal and gas production ramping up in Europe and the US.

But, according to new data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), this return to fossil fuels was only a blip. Renewable energy is here to stay. The study found that carbon emissions are set to rise by only 300 million tons -- just under 1% -- this year.

The widespread adoption of renewable energy and electric vehicles has been key to tamping down emissions. Global solar and wind power capacity grew by over 700 terawatt-hours this year, the largest rise on record in renewables over a single year, and in turn averted close to 1 billion tons of increased CO2 emissions.

IEA: Global CO2 Emissions To Increase 2022, By Less Than 1%, October 19, 2022.

IEA: The clean energy economy is gaining ground, but more effort is needed now to reach net zero by 2050, October 12, 2022.

Bloomberg: Solar Energy Demand Set to Surge in 2022, July 27, 2022.

While emissions need to be reduced even more sharply for the world to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and to avoid the worst of climate change, the policy and infrastructure changes incentivizing renewables are a step in the right direction.

“The global energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted a scramble by many countries to use other energy sources to replace the natural gas supplies that Russia has withheld from the market. The encouraging news is that solar and wind are filling much of the gap, with the uptick in coal appearing to be relatively small and temporary,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.

WMO: United in Science 2022 | Animation, September 13, 2022.

PBS: What Will Earth Look Like When These 6 Tipping Points Hit?, September 6, 2022.

Grantham Imperial: Dr Friederike Otto speaks to BBC World News about the heatwaves, 18 July 2022.

WTVR CBS6: Wind turbines produced more electricity than coal and nuclear energy for 1st time in US, April 22, 2022.

CBS (Canada): Oil-rich Texas sees clean energy boom, March 25, 2022.

Bloomberg: Climate Change 'Overtakes Pandemics as Biggest Global Concern,' January 11, 2022.