“Driven by higher energy demand in 2018, global energy-related CO2 emissions rose 1.7% to a historic high of 33.1 Gt CO2. While emissions from all fossil fuels increased, the power sector accounted for nearly two-thirds of emissions growth. Coal use in power alone surpassed 10 Gt CO2, mostly in Asia. China, India, and the United States accounted for 85% of the net increase in emissions, while emissions declined for Germany, Japan, Mexico, France and the United Kingdom.” IEA
Global energy-related CO2 emissions grew 1.7% in 2018 to reach a historic high of 33.1 Gt CO2. It was the highest rate of growth since 2013, and 70% higher than the average increase since 2010. Last year's growth of 560 Mt was equivalent to the total emissions from international aviation.
The increase in emissions was driven by higher energy consumption resulting from a robust global economy, as well as from weather conditions in some parts of the world that led to increased energy demand for heating and cooling.
CO2 emissions stagnated between 2014 and 2016, even as the global economy continued to expand. This decoupling was primarily the result of strong energy efficiency improvements and low-carbon technology deployment, leading to a decline in coal demand. But the dynamics changed in 2017 and 2018. Higher economic growth was not met by higher energy productivity, lower-carbon options did not scale fast enough to meet the rise in demand.
The result was that CO2 emissions increased by nearly 0.5% for every 1% gain in global economic output compared with an increase of 0.3% on average since 2010. Renewables and nuclear energy have nonetheless made an impact, with emissions growing 25% slower than energy demand in 2018.
For the first time, the IEA assessed the impact of fossil fuel use on global temperature increases. It found that CO2 emitted from coal combustion was responsible for over 0.3°C of the 1°C increase in global average annual surface temperatures above pre-industrial levels. This makes coal the single largest source of global temperature increase.
The global average annual concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere averaged 407.4 ppm in 2018, up 2.4 ppm since 2017. This is a major increase from pre-industrial levels, which ranged between 180 and 280 ppm.