CO2 emissions are dominated by the energy sector

Energy runs our lives: boil a kettle, drive to work, use your phone… Globally, we are using more energy each year [1]. In 2018 global energy consumption increased by 2.9% – this is the fastest it has grown since 2010 [1]. This is primarily due to growth in just three countries: China contributed 34% of energy growth, the USA 20%, and India 15% [1]. Although all types of fuel are growing, natural gas was the main player, accounting for 40% of increase in energy use [1]. However, renewable energy, especially wind and solar, are growing faster than any other energy type (but are used less in total) [1].

Burning fossil fuels is the main source of CO2 emissions, which cause climate change [2]. Although some emissions come from other sources, like deforestation and fire, there is no doubt that fossil fuels are the biggest problem [2]. The energy sector (electricity, heating, manufacturing, construction etc.) is responsible for 59% of greenhouse gas emissions, whilst fossil fuels are also used for transport, industry, and other sectors [2].

Carbon emissions from energy use increased by 2% in 2018 [1]. We can’t ask the world to use less energy – 1 billion people still have no access to electricity [3]. So, we need to start generating it in a more environmentally friendly way. Even the fossil fuel companies themselves acknowledge this [1]. In this series of posts we’ll explore our different options.

Please note that the diagram above does not include greenhouse gases other than CO2 – agriculture, for example, is a much larger source of methane (which is a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, but lasts less long in the atmosphere) [2].

References

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