The Continued Rise in Global Emissions Points to the Necessity of Diversified Clean Energy

By Emily Vidovich. Emily has a background in environmental journalism and sustainability and is a member of the George Washington University Class of 2019.

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose by 1.1% in 2023 compared to the previous year, bringing humanity’s yearly emissions to a record high. This is one of the key findings of a newly published report on annual CO2 emissions from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report also analyzed how the adoption of clean energy has impacted global emissions and found that, without clean energy technology, the increase in emissions over the past five years would have been triple the size.

The IEA is an intergovernmental organization that provides energy analysis and supports the clean energy transition. The IEA’s 31 member countries—including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Australia, and many European nations—along with the thirty-plus Global South nations that compose its associate countries, account for 80% of global energy demand, and 80% of global emissions. But, they also have provided 87% of clean energy investments to date.

Global investment in clean energy has exceeded investment in fossil fuels for the past five years, and IEA’s analysis shows that the “major growth” in solar power, wind energy, nuclear energy, and electric cars has limited the growth of fossil fuel emissions. The research also shows that the volatility of the fossil fuel market that resulted from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ultimately accelerated clean energy deployment, even as it caused a “short-term scramble for oil and gas.”

A complete grid transition to renewable energy is necessary to prevent the worst effects of climate change. To limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius above pre-industrial levels, humanity must triple its renewable power capacity by 2030. As renewable energy is expanded, it is critical that countries strategically use all available renewable energy sources in order to create a diverse grid that is insulated against climate impacts such as drought and changes in weather patterns. 

The expansion of diverse renewable energy sources will both create a climate resilient society and reduce the emissions responsible for climate change, thus reducing the frequency and severity of climate change-fueled extreme weather events. That is why AltaSea advocated for the new California legislation that will expand offshore wave and tidal energy, and supports partners that are accelerating blue economy energy solutions such as offshore wind, green hydrogen, solar, and zero-emissions cargo shipping. Ensuring that the clean energy transition happens at the pace that is necessary to limit climate change requires all hands—and all technologies—on deck.

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