Fatih Birol, the head of the Paris-based IEA, said that despite the improvements in clean technology, the global economy is still seeing "emissions growing from fossil fuels, hindering efforts to meet the world's climate targets" in a report released on the heels of massive earnings reports from energy majors such as BP. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
March 2 (UPI) -- While clean energy technologies such as electric vehicles helped prevent a dramatic increase in emissions of carbon dioxide, the global economy remains on an unsustainable trajectory, the International Energy Agency said Thursday.
Energy-related emissions of CO2, a potent greenhouse gas, increased by 0.9% year-on-year in 2022 to reach a new high of more than 36.8 billion tons, according to the report. Clean energy -- from renewable energy to heat pumps -- helped prevent some 550 million tons of CO2 from reaching the atmosphere, however.
Fatih Birol, the head of the Paris-based IEA, said that despite the improvements in clean technology, the global economy is still seeing "emissions growing from fossil fuels, hindering efforts to meet the world's climate targets."
The report comes on the heels of record-setting earnings reports from energy majors such as Chevron and BP.
BP was the target of criticism after announcing plans to trim its forecast for emission reductions, from 35-40% to 20-30% by the end of the decade. The $8 billion in planned investments in oil and gas production over the next seven years matches its spending on bioenergy, EV charging and other alternatives.
Energy companies are moving en masse to pursue alternative energy resources, though CEO Bernard Looney said his company is working to "provide the energy the world needs today."
Birol, however, said it's those companies that need to take their fair share of the responsibility to arrest climate change.
"It's critical that they review their strategies to make sure they're aligned with meaningful emissions reductions," he said.
The IEA found that emissions from crude oil were higher than that for coal, increasing by 2.5% from 2021 levels. Emissions attributed to natural gas -- seen as something of a bridge to a cleaner future -- declined by 1.6%, though at least some of that was attributed to supply-side pressures stemming from the war in Ukraine.
The U.S. economy, the world's largest, recorded a 0.8% increase in emissions, which came as a result of higher natural gas usage last year.
China, the second-largest economy, saw no net increase in CO2 emissions last year, largely due to strict pandemic-related restrictions.
The European Union -- buckled last year by war-related issues -- saw emissions drop by 2.5% because of a larger market share for renewables.