Rising energy demand fuels increase in global carbon emissions

Analysts agree the pace of decline of new coal-fired power plants is still too slow


China and India helped push global demand for energy up more than 2% last year, more than twice the rate of growth in 2016.

The figures from the International Energy Agency (IEA) show that this higher demand – met primarily by fossil fuels – and a slowdown in improvements to energy efficiency has led to an increase in CO2 emissions.

CO2 levels increased by 1.4% last year, following three years of flat emissions growth.

The IEA said, “The growth in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2017 is a strong warning for global efforts to combat climate change and demonstrates that current efforts are insufficient to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”

Meanwhile, a new report from Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and CoalSwarm say that the number of coal-fired power plants built worldwide fell steeply over the past two years.

The start of new builds dropped by 73 percent between 2015 and 2017, the report says, while newly completed plants fell 41 percent and the number of plants in planning dropped by 59 percent.

The reasons for the decline include a shift to cleaner energy sources in China and a retreat away from coal financing by private capital in India. However, the authors of the report and independent analysts agree the pace of decline is still too slow to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

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