Growing global demand for electricity raises warning of climate damage

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The world needs more electricity. That will mean severe weather damage unless something changes soon.

A report published Friday by the International Energy Agency found that global demand for electricity rose by 6% in 2021, fueled by a colder winter and dramatic economic recovery from the pandemic.

This has driven prices and carbon emissions to new records. Demand growth was particularly strong in China, where it jumped around 10%.

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said the report contained a stern warning for the future.

Electricity has a crucial role to play in the fight against climate change, as countries shift away from fossil fuels and more battery-powered cars hit the roads.

But so far, renewable sources of electricity — as opposed to power plants that burn coal or natural gas — haven’t kept up.

Electricity generated by renewable sources grew 6% globally last year, while coal-fired generation jumped 9% due to high demand and exorbitant prices for natural gas, which made it seem like a more attractive option.

Carbon dioxide emissions from power generation rose by 7% as a result, hitting an all-time high after falling the previous two years.

“This not only highlights how far we are currently from a path to net-zero emissions by 2050, it also underscores the massive changes needed for the electricity sector to fulfill its critical role in decarbonizing the broader energy system,” said Birol. in a statement.

In the United States, coal-fired electricity generation increased by 19% in 2021. The increase is likely to be temporary, with coal production declining by about 6% annually between 2022 and 2024, according to the IEA.

There is some good news: the rapid expansion of renewable energy capacity should be enough to cover the vast majority of global electricity demand growth by 2024.

Still, emissions will remain high.

The IEA found that emissions from the energy sector “will remain at around the same level from 2021 to 2024”, although they need to decrease “strongly” for the world to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst effects of the changes. climate.

This content was originally created in English.

original version

Reference: CNN Brasil

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