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Major growth of clean energy limited the rise in global emissions in 2023
Global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose less strongly in 2023 than the year before even as total energy demand growth accelerated, our new analysis shows, with continued expansion of solar PV, wind, nuclear power and electric cars helping the world avoid greater use of fossil fuels. Without clean energy technologies, the global increase in CO2 emissions in the last five years would have been three times larger.

Emissions increased by 410 million tonnes, or 1.1%, in 2023 – compared with a rise of 490 million tonnes the year before – taking them to a record level of 37.4 billion tonnes. An exceptional shortfall in hydropower due to extreme droughts – in China, the United States and several other economies – resulted in over 40% of the rise in emissions in 2023 as countries turned largely to fossil fuel alternatives to plug the gap. Had it not been for the unusually low hydropower output, global CO2 emissions from electricity generation would have declined last year, making the overall rise in energy-related emissions significantly smaller.

The findings come from our annual review of global energy-related CO2 emissions – and the inaugural edition of a new series, the Clean Energy Market Monitor, which provides timely tracking of clean energy deployment for a select group of technologies and outlines the implications for global energy markets more broadly.

From 2019 to 2023, growth in clean energy was twice as large as that of fossil fuels, providing the opportunity to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels this decade. For example, the deployment of wind and solar PV in electricity systems worldwide since 2019 has been sufficient to avoid an amount of annual coal consumption equivalent to that of India and Indonesia’s electricity sectors combined – and to dent annual natural gas demand by an amount equivalent to Russia’s pre-war natural gas exports to the European Union.
IEA brings together climate and energy leaders to identify priority actions for delivering on COP28 outcomes
At a recent high-level event at IEA headquarters in Paris, energy and climate leaders from around the world addressed the next steps that governments need to take to deliver on the important energy commitments made at the recent COP28 climate summit in Dubai and ensure that the door remains open to limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.

In his first major public engagement with the energy and climate communities since the Dubai summit in December, COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber delivered the keynote remarks at the roundtable hosted by our Executive Director Fatih Birol. Other high-level participants included US Special Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry, COP21 President and former French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, Danish Minister for Development Cooperation and Global Climate Policy Dan Jørgensen, German Special Envoy for International Climate Action Jennifer Morgan, Brazilian National Secretary for Climate Change Ana Toni, Azeri COP29 Lead Negotiator Yalchin Rafiyev, and UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action and Just Transition Selwin Hart. They were joined by more than 50 Ambassadors from countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and North America, as well as international thought leaders and energy industry executives.

In December, nearly 200 governments at COP28 reached a key agreement on energy and climate, often referred to as the UAE Consensus, that set new global 2030 goals of accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels, tripling renewable energy capacity, doubling energy efficiency progress and substantially reducing methane emissions. The discussion at our recent high-level roundtable focused on how to realise these targets, which are essential to meet the Paris Agreement aim of limiting the average rise in global temperatures to 1.5 °C.

Read more in our news article – and watch the opening remarks of the key speakers.
To keep up with our very latest news and analysis, follow the IEA on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter) as well as our Executive Director Fatih Birol (LinkedIn, Twitter)
Reflecting on how the energy world and the IEA have changed
We said quite a bit about the main outcomes of our recent 2024 Ministerial Meeting and 50th Anniversary in the previous edition of this newsletter, but we have more highlights and takeaways to share.

If you want a big picture summary, read our news article about the milestone event – or watch this short video to get a flavour of the key moments, including remarks by leaders such as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Several high-level dialogues took place on key energy issues during our Ministerial Meeting. These included boosting clean energy investment, energy security and affordability, scaling up renewables in Africa to support sustainable development, and ensuring inclusivity and fairness are at the heart of clean energy transitions.

Taking place half a century after the IEA was founded, the Ministerial Meeting provided an opportunity to reflect on how both the world’s energy landscape and our Agency itself have changed – especially in the past decade as clean energy transitions have accelerated and a new global energy economy has emerged.

Find out more about these themes in our special 50th Anniversary web page, which includes an interactive timeline highlighting notable milestones since 1974. And read about how our Agency has expanded and transformed to respond to the fast-moving and interlinked challenges of energy security and climate change in this recent in-depth article published by TIME.
In other news…
Our Executive Director travel to Brussels last week where he met with Tinne Van der Straeten, the Energy Minister of Belgium, which currently holds the EU Council Presidency, to discuss European and global energy and climate issues. At a special World Energy Outlook event in Brussels, Dr Birol addressed a large audience on Europe’s position in clean energy transitions worldwide, emphasising the importance of bolstering its industrial strength.

Some 100 experts from over 20 countries and regions – including Africa, Latin America, India and China – came together at our headquarters in Paris last week for a high-level workshop on the role of batteries in delivering on the clean energy transition commitments made at the recent COP28 climate summit in Dubai. Participants included representatives of governments, international organisations, finance, civil society and industry – including battery producers accounting for 60% of global supply and the two largest electric car manufacturers. The discussions will provide an essential input for our upcoming special report on batteries, to be published in the first half of 2024. Read more in our news article.

Paris, where our Agency is based, is one of the leading international cities in advancing climate action. Our Executive Director met with Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo at City Hall on Wednesday where they discussed how to ensure energy transitions benefit those citizens who are most economically vulnerable. Mayor Hidalgo is one of the many high-profile figures who will take part in our Global Summit on People-Centred Clean Energy Transitions on 26 April at our headquarters in Paris.
 
In honour of our esteemed colleague Kathleen Gaffney, who passed away in 2021, the Kathleen Gaffney Prize supports young energy efficiency researchers by providing them with opportunities to share their work with the wider energy efficiency community. The winner of the 2024 prize will be invited to present their work at the biannual European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE) Summer Study. All the costs will be covered. The award will give preference to a woman from the Global South. To apply for the Prize please send a 250-word summary of your work to kathleengaffneyprize@gmail.com explaining why you think it is important to share it with the global energy efficiency community. The deadline for applications is 31 March 2024.
ENERGY SNAPSHOT
Avoided CO2 emissions from deployment of major clean technologies from 2019-2023
From 2019 to 2023, growth in clean energy was twice as large as that of fossil fuels, according to our new analysis. It shows that the deployment of clean energy technologies in the past five years has substantially limited increases in demand for fossil fuels, providing the opportunity to accelerate the transition away from them this decade. Without clean energy technologies, the global increase in CO2 emissions in the last five years would have been three times larger. Find out more in the new Clean Energy Market Monitor and our CO2 emissions update.
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