Data published Monday shows that fossil fuels made up 82% of global energy consumption in 2022, another indication that the global transition away from planet-warming sources is moving far too slowly as rich nations continue burning oil, gas, and coal at an unsustainable pace.
The figures released by the Energy Institute show that because of the persistent “dominance of fossil fuels,” global emissions from the energy sector grew 0.8% last year even as renewable energy consumption increased by 13%.
Juliet Davenport, president of the Energy Institute, said in a statement that “2022 saw some of the worst ever impacts of climate change — the devastating floods affecting millions in Pakistan, the record heat events across Europe and North America — yet we have to look hard for positive news on the energy transition in this new data.”
“Despite further strong growth in wind and solar in the power sector, overall global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions increased again,” said Davenport. “We are still heading in the opposite direction to that required by the Paris Agreement.”
The new data was released days after a climate finance summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron ended without major action to relieve the debt burdens of poor frontline nations and force the fossil fuel industry to pay for the damage it has inflicted worldwide.
That conference was held months ahead of the critical COP28 summit in the United Arab Emirates, which will be overseen by the head of the country’s national oil giant. Despite research indicating that wealthy countries — the primary drivers of global emissions — must end oil and gas production entirely by 2034 to keep warming within critical limits, nations have not even agreed to put a fossil fuel phaseout on the COP28 agenda.
Meanwhile, according to the new Energy Institute data, oil consumption continued to increase in 2022 — up 2.9 million barrels per day compared to last year — and global coal use rose to its highest level since 2014.
There are some bright spots in the Statistical Review of World Energy, formerly a project of the oil giant BP. The Energy Institute, which released the latest version of the analysis in collaboration with KPMG and Kearney, noted that “2022 saw the largest-ever increase in wind and solar new build capacity.”
“Together they reached a record 12% share of power generation,” the analysis found, “with solar up 25% and wind up 13.5%. Renewables (excluding hydro) met 84% of net electricity demand growth in 2022.”
But KPMG’s Simon Virley said that “despite record growth in renewables, the share of world energy still coming from fossil fuels remains stubbornly stuck at 82%, which should act as a clarion call for governments to inject more urgency into the energy transition.”
Climate scientist Bill McGuire echoed that concern on Twitter, writing that the “huge increase in renewables is being overwhelmed by growth in energy consumption.”
“Climate armageddon here we come,” McGuire wrote.
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