Fossil fuel use, emissions hit record highs in 2023, industry report says

Renewables’ share of global energy consumption reaches nearly 15 percent, an all-time high.

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Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising despite the growing adoption of renewables [Brandon Bell/Getty Images via AFP]

Global fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions hit record highs last year, even as renewables generated more energy than ever before, an industry report has found.

Fossil fuel consumption rose 1.5 percent compared with 2022, while emissions increased 2.1 percent, the Statistical Review of World Energy report showed on Thursday.

At the same time, renewables’ share of energy consumption hit 14.6 percent, up 0.4 percent from the previous year.

Nick Wayth, CEO of the Energy Institute, said that while demand for fossil fuels is peaking in advanced economies, economic development and improvements in quality of life in emerging economies continue to drive fossil growth.

“The progress of the transition is slow, but the big picture masks diverse energy stories playing out across different geographies,” Wayth said in a foreword to the report.

The Global South accounted for 56 percent of total energy consumption, with its use growing at twice the rate of the global average, the report said.

China was by far the largest consumer of coal – accounting for 56 percent of the world’s total consumption – while India’s consumption exceeded that of Europe and North America combined for the first time ever, according to the report.

By contrast, coal consumption in Europe and North America fell to its lowest levels since 1965, the report said.

In the United States, coal consumption fell by 17 percent and has halved over the last decade.

China and India also saw big increases in the use of natural gas, with consumption rising 7 percent, according to the report.

Demand in Europe fell by 7 percent, keeping global consumption relatively flat.

China also drove the adoption of renewables, accounting for 63 percent of new global wind and solar capacity.

The Energy Institute, which represents the global energy sector, has published the annual report in collaboration with consultancies KPMG and Kearney since 2023.

The institute took over the publication of the report from BP, which had authored the report since the 1950s.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies