During the health emergency caused by Covid-19, international experts warned of an imminent energy crisis, which they expected to bring a devastating rise in carbon dioxide emissions.
This theory was based on a predicted rapid post-pandemic economic recovery, which would likely mean the majority of companies turning to fossil fuels, considered an indispensable way of generating the energy required to resume full production.
This trend was at first viewed as necessary and undeniable, but it has now been contradicted, at least in part, in a recent report by the IEA (International Energy Agency), which painted quite a different scenario.
Less CO2 than predicted due to renewable energy sources
The IEA’s Global Energy Transitions Stocktake report points out that global carbon dioxide emissions linked to the energy sector rose by less than 1% (321 million tonnes) in the year 2022. This is a very promising result if we compare it with the 6 percent rise recorded in 2021.
Nevertheless, the figures are still too high compared to those set out in international agreements on climate (36.8 billion tonnes in total), but at least they have not increased drastically (as originally forecast by researchers), despite the fact that companies have resumed intense rates of production.
How is all this possible?
A large part of the merit for tackling the worsening energy crisis (which of course still remains an issue which needs to be resolved) can be traced to the use of renewable energy sources. The pandemic years have in fact obliged many companies to update their systems, so they have had to move forward in their search for alternative solutions. These include:
- adopting the use of electric vehicles;
- the introduction of heat pumps for the heating/air conditioning of buildings;
- the use of high efficiency technologies;
- switching to clean electricity produced using green methods, such as wind or photovoltaic.
IEA experts have declared that without such innovations, increases in greenhouse gas emissions would have been much greater: in the region of 550 million tonnes. Of course, it is not yet time to celebrate, but not only is the progress achieved so far encouraging, it will also have a significant effect on the current energy crisis.
The real problem is linked to carbon emissions and oil
While natural gas emissions have decreased, those of other fossil fuels continue to cause concern, for example:
- carbon emissions have risen by 1.6% globally, with Asia at the top of the list, followed by Europe (whose impact on the total is however considerably less);
- in the oil sector there has been a significant rise of 2.5% (the main reason for this is air transportation which, following the minimum levels recorded during the pandemic, has now returned to operating at full capacity).
As for individual areas, it has emerged that China’s emissions have remained more or less stable in 2022, mainly due to a slowdown in the construction industry and weaker economic growth. Meanwhile in Europe, toxic emissions have fallen by 2.5%, once again thanks to renewable energy sources.
The data contained in the IEA report, together with additional information to be gathered in the coming months, will play a fundamental role in future debate at the COP28 climate convention. The Climate Change Conference is scheduled to start in November and will aim to provide up to date analysis of the global climate situation, as well as a review of the current state of the energy crisis.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith