Global warming emissions hit record level in 2018, IEA reports


Smokestacks pollution air quality

Smokestacks pollution air quality

The International Energy Agency reported on Tuesday that global warming emissions reached a record level in 2018, despite efforts in the U.S., Europe, and China to reduce emissions with more sales of electric cars and cleaner power.

Greenhouse gas emissions increased faster in 2018 than during any of the past six years.

Worldwide, emissions of global-warming carbon-dioxide gas rose 1.7 percent in 2018 to 33.1 billion tons.

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Almost two-thirds of the growth came from generating electricity, the IEA reported. Still with all the renewable energy being built, that increase was smaller than the total increase in demand for energy, which rose 2.3 percent in 2018. 

“We have seen an extraordinary increase in global energy demand in 2018, growing at its fastest pace this decade,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol told Reuters. "Despite major growth in renewables, global emissions are still rising, demonstrating once again that more urgent action is needed on all fronts.”

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As electric car sales increase, reducing the global warming from powerplants will become even more critical if they are to reduce global-warming emissions.

Renewable energy demand rose by 4 percent during the year, while demand for natural gas rose 4.6 percent.

Europe and Japan were the leaders in reducing greenhouse emissions, with Europe's falling by 1.3 percent. Japan's emissions also fell for the fifth straight year.

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Those drops, however, were offset by increases in energy demand in China and India, and by rising emissions in the U.S. Together, energy demand from the three countries accounted for 70 percent of the global increase in energy demand. U.S. emissions grew 3.1 percent in 2018, reversing decreases in 2016 and 2017. Emissions in China rose by 2.5 percent, and in India by 4.5 percent, albeit from a smaller base.

For the first time, the Paris-based IEA assigned a portion of global temperature increase to the fossil fuels responsible for it.

It pointed to burning coal as being responsible for 30 percent of the 1.7 degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures since pre-industrial times.

 
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