Energy Institute: ‘World burned more fossil fuels than ever’

Demand for fossil fuels has never been as high as in 2023. Demand for oil and coal, in particular, pushed the consumption of fossil fuels to unprecedented heights. As a result, never before have so many greenhouse gases been emitted. Last year, they increased by 2%, exceeding 40 gigatons of CO2 for the first time.

These are some of the conclusions of the Energy Institute’s latest report, the 73rd edition of the ‘Statistical Review of World Energy’, presented on Thursday.

Coal production and consumption reached record levels last year. Consumption declined in Europe and the United States, but increased demand from China and India offset that decline. The Asia Pacific region accounted for nearly 80% of global output, with activity concentrated in just four countries.

Australia, China, India, and Indonesia jointly produce 97% of the region’s coal. In China alone, 56 percent of the world’s coal is burned. In 2023, India exceeded the combined consumption of Europe and North America for the first time.

Total energy consumption

Last year, the oil milestone of 100 million barrels daily was passed for the first time. Gas production remained constant. Consumption fell in Europe but was compensated by higher demand in China, India, and other Asian countries. The US remains the world’s largest producer.

Total energy consumption worldwide increased by 2% last year. The relative share of fossil fuels decreased slightly (from 81.9 to 81.5%) but was at a record level in absolute figures.

This increased demand for energy also largely offset the strong growth of renewable energy, such as solar and wind energy (+67 percent). The share of renewable energy barely rose by 0.4 percentage points to 14.6%.

Record emission level

This is terrible news for the fight against climate change because the increased production and consumption of polluting fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, has resulted in the energy sector emitting more than 40 gigatons of CO2 for the first time.

EI President Juliet Davenport OBE HonFEI: “Energy is central to human progress. It is also now central to our very survival. With global temperature increases averaging close to 1.5°C, 2023 was the warmest year since records began, and the increasingly severe impacts of climate change were felt across all continents.”

Simon Virley CB FEI, Vice Chair and Head of Energy and Natural Resources, KPMG in the UK: “With CO2 emissions also reaching record levels, it’s time to redouble our efforts on reducing carbon emissions and providing finance and capacity to build more low carbon energy sources in the global south where demand is growing at a rapid pace.”

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