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Biggest Economies Step Up Carbon Emissions

by Editor's Desk
Biggest Economies Step Up Carbon Emissions

Ashok Pathak | The TrickyScribe: The world is not on track to reach targets set in the much-publicized 2015 Paris Accord. Almost all countries are contributing to the rise in carbon emissions. India and China are experiencing the highest increases over the past year. Following a decade of strong falls, EU emissions have been nearly flat for past five years. Medium- and long-term emissions goals will not be achieved without significant interventions.


Global CO2 emissions are raking up after an encouraging plateau between 2014 and 2016, as per Capgemini’s World Energy Markets Observatory (WEMO) report that examines the electricity and gas markets in North America, Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, India and China. It reveals a world struggling to balance the desire for continued economic growth with the need to take deliberate and drastic steps against climate change.

Infographic: World's Biggest Economies Ramp Up Their Emissions | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista

While many countries are tapering down the use of fossil fuels, especially those in Europe, the energy mix in the developing world is dominated by coal. As a result, worldwide coal consumption grew by 4 percent in 2018, as driven by the need to expand electricity service—a legitimate need as many claim. That being said, developing countries must adopt sound policies related to cleaner extraction methods in mining, clean coal combustion technologies in power plants and accelerated RD&D investments in carbon capture and storage (CCS).


Renewables remain the fastest-growing worldwide energy source, with consumption increasing 14.5 percent in 2018. Further, advancements in clean energy storage, including pumped hydro storage, li-ion batteries and clean hydrogen production are helping to drive down costs and improve accessibility. However, the pace of renewables growth depends not only on equipment improvements and costs, but on many other factors, including public acceptance, sales agreements and financing.

In 2018, global energy consumption rose 2.3 percent—nearly twice the average rate since 2010—as driven by a robust worldwide economy. Despite the rapid growth of renewables in some regions, oiI, gas and coal accounted for nearly three-quarters of the increase in total energy demand, their highest share in five years. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions climbed 2 percent globally, a significant break from the plateau of 2014 to 2016.


While renewables continue to remain the fastest-growing energy source worldwide, investments during the first half of 2019 declined 14 percent as compared to the same period in 2018. Population growth as well as lack of anticipated technical breakthroughs over the next two decades, further contribute to a bleak medium- and long-term landscape.

The WEMO report explores these issues in greater detail this year and presents new ideas for how utilities, policymakers and private companies can embrace a long-term strategy that balances growth and change—and draws opportunity from crisis.

In 2017, they grew 1.6 percent before climbing 2 percent last year. Nearly all countries contributed to the problem which was driven by booming energy consumption from fossil fuels. Some of the biggest increases were seen in India, China and the United States.

In India, CO2 spiked 6.3 percent while the U.S. and China registered increases of 3.4 and 2.3 percent respectively. All of those countries saw their annual energy consumption levels climb between 3.5 and 4 percent last year. Meanwhile, clean energy investment sank 39 percent in China and 6 percent in the U.S. though it did climb 10 percent in India.

Not all of the report’s findings were negative, however, with the EU recording a 2.5 percent decrease in its emissions in 2018. Other positive news included 14.5 percent growth in renewable power generation along with falling installation costs for wind and solar. Electric vehicle sales are also surging, going up 79 percent in China, 79 percent in the U.S. and 34 percent in the EU. Despite those positives, the report states that the path to climate change objectives remains very uncertain and that more action is required to mitigate the crisis while maintaining security of energy supply.

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