The International Energy Agency (IEA) is reporting that global energy demand rose by 2.1% in 2017, more than twice the previous year's rate, boosted by strong global economic growth.
According to the IEA’s ‘Global Energy and CO2 Status Report, 2017’, over 70% of global energy demand growth was met by oil, natural gas and coal, while renewables accounted for almost all of the rest. Improvements in energy efficiency slowed down last year. As a result of these trends, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions increased by 1.4% in 2017, after three years of remaining flat.
However, carbon emissions did not rise everywhere. While most major economies saw a rise, the US, the UK, Mexico and Japan experienced declines. The biggest drop in emissions came from the US, driven by higher renewables deployment.
"The robust global economy pushed up energy demand last year, which was mostly met by fossil fuels, while renewables made impressive strides," said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA's Executive Director. "The significant growth in global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 tells us that current efforts to combat climate change are far from sufficient. For example, there has been a dramatic slowdown in the rate of improvement in global energy efficiency as policy makers have put less focus in this area."
The report also notes that oil demand grew by 1.6%, more than twice the average annual rate seen over the past decade, driven by the transport sector (in particular a growing share of SUVs and trucks in major economies) as well as rising petrochemical demand. Meanwhile, natural gas consumption grew 3%, the most of all fossil fuels, with China alone accounting for nearly a third of this growth, and the buildings and industry sectors contributing to 80% of the increase in global demand.
The IEA notes that fossil fuels accounted for 81% of total energy demand in 2017, a level that has remained stable for more than three decades.
Meanwhile, energy efficiency improvements slowed significantly, with global energy intensity improving by only 1.7% in 2017 compared with 2.3% on average over the last three years, caused by an apparent slowdown in efficiency policy coverage and stringency and lower energy prices.
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