Global energy demand rose by 2.1% in 2017, more than twice the previous year's rate, boosted by strong global economic growth, with oil, gas and coal meeting most of the increase in demand for energy, and renewables seeing impressive gains, but carbon emissions rose for the first time since 2014.
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.
But carbon emissions, which reached a historical high of 32.5 gigatonnes in 2017, did not rise everywhere. While most major economies saw a rise, others – the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan – experienced declines. The biggest drop in emissions came from the United States, driven by higher renewables deployment.
These findings are part of the International Energy Agency's newest resource – the Global Energy and CO2 Status Report, 2017 – released online on 22 March, which provides an up-to-date snapshot of recent trends and developments across all fuels.
"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."
Other key findings of the report for 2017 include:
• 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.
• 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.
• Coal demand rose about 1%, reversing declines over the previous two years, driven by an increase in coal-fired electricity generation mostly in Asia.
• Renewables had the highest growth rate of any fuel, meeting a quarter of world energy demand growth, as renewables-based electricity generation rose 6.3%, driven by expansion of wind, solar and hydropower.
Electricity generation increased by 3.1%, significantly faster than overall energy demand, and India and China together accounting for 70% of the global increase.
• 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.
• Fossil fuels accounted for 81% of total energy demand in 2017, a level that has remained stable for more than three decades.
A full overview of the IEA's Global Energy and CO2 Status Report, 2017 is available on the website <www.iea.org/geco>