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Insights into Editorial: A stop sign: on India’s growing carbon emissions

Insights into Editorial: A stop sign: on India’s growing carbon emissions




International Energy Agency (IEA) recently released Global Energy and CO2 Status Report that highlights worldwide trends and developments of fuels, renewable sources, energy efficiency and carbon emissions.

Report highlights global energy consumption in 2018 increased at nearly twice the average rate of growth since 2010, driven by a robust global economy and higher heating and cooling needs in some parts of the world.

Demand for all fuels increased, led by natural gas, even as solar and wind posted double digit growth. Energy efficiency saw lacklustre improvement.

As a result of higher energy consumption, CO2 emissions rose 1.7% last year and hit a new record.


Global Findings by IEA:

  • 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 US accounted for 85 per cent of the net increase in emissions, while it declined for Germany, Japan, Mexico, France and the United Kingdom.


  • Coal-fired power generation continues to be the single largest emitter, accounting for 30% of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.


  • Global gas demand expanded at its fastest rate since 2010, with year-on-year growth of 4.6%. Oil demand grew 1.3% and coal consumption rose 0.7%.


  • China saw the most substantial increase in energy demand, which grew 3.5% to 3,155 Mtoe, the highest since 2012.


  • After three years of decline, energy demand in the United States rebounded in 2018, growing by 3.7%, or 80 Mtoe, nearly one-quarter of global growth.


  • Energy demand in Europe in 2018 followed a different path. Despite an economic expansion of 1.8%, demand increased by only 0.2%.


  • An increase in energy efficiency in Germany resulted in a 2.2% drop in energy demand, with oil demand decreasing by more than 6%. Demand in France and the United Kingdom increased moderately.



India’s energy demand outpaces global growth: IEA:

India, the third-highest contributor, is projected to see emissions rise by 6.3% from 2017.

The 2.7% projected global rise in 2018 has been driven by appreciable growth in coal use for the second year in a row, and sustained growth in oil and gas use.

India’s energy demand outpaced global demand growth in 2018 according to the International Energy Agency. The growth in India was led by coal for power generation and oil for transport.

According to the IEA’s Global Energy & CO2 status report, India saw primary energy demand increase 4 per cent or over 35 million tonne of oil equivalent. This accounts for 11 per cent of global demand growth.

Coal-fired power generation continues to be the single largest emitter, accounting for 30 per cent of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions

The higher energy demand was driven by a global economy that expanded by 3.7 per cent in 2018, a higher pace than the average annual growth of 3.5 per cent seen since 2010.


Urgent action is needed on all fronts:

Despite major growth in renewables, global emissions are still rising, demonstrating once again that more urgent action is needed on all frontsdeveloping all clean energy solutions, curbing emissions, improving efficiency, and spurring investments and innovation, including in carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

Demand for natural gas accounted for almost half the growth in global energy demand, driven by the US and China, with global gas demand increasing by 4.6 per cent in 2018, the fastest pace since 2010.


Priority Areas for India to achieve India’s INDC’s:

At the global level, renewable sources of energy grew by 7% during 2018, but that pace is grossly insufficient, considering the rise in demand.

Moreover, it was China and Europe that contributed the bulk of those savings, in large measure from solar and wind power, indicating that India needs to ramp up its capacity in this area.

In fact, as the founder of the International Solar Alliance, India should lead the renewables effort. Yet, in spite of falling prices and rising efficiency, the potential of rooftop solar photovoltaics remains poorly utilised.

It is time State power utilities are made responsible for defined rates of growth in the installation of rooftop systems.

A second priority area is the cleaning up of coal power plants, some of which are young and have decades of use ahead.

This process should be aided by the UNFCCC, which can help transfer the best technologies for carbon capture, use and storage, and provide financial linkage from the $100 billion annual climate fund proposed for 2020.

India’s record in promoting green transport has been uninspiring, and emissions from fossil fuels and the resulting pollution are rising rapidly.

The Centre’s plan to expand electric mobility through financial incentives for buses, taxis and two-wheelers needs to be pursued vigorously, especially in the large cities.



Oil demand grew by 1.3 percent in 2018, while coal consumption was up 0.7 percent as higher demand in Asia outpaced declines everywhere else.

More work was needed to increase power generation from renewable energy sources, with demand rising by 4 per cent last year.

Global gas demand increased at its fastest rate since 2010, up 4.6 percent from a year earlier, driven by higher demand as switching from gas to coal increased.

Demand for energy from renewable sources rose by 4 percent but the use of renewables needs to expand much more quickly to meet long-term climate goals.

Coal-to-gas switching avoided almost 60 million tonnes of coal demand, with the transition to less carbon-intensive natural gas helping to avert 95 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Without this coal-to-gas switch, the increase in emissions would have been more than 15 percent greater.

Inevitably, India will have to raise its ambition on emissions reduction, and participate in the global stocktaking of country-level action in 2023.

It has the rare opportunity to choose green growth, shunning fossil fuels for future energy pathways and infrastructure.