Mar 9, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Carbon dioxide emissions hit record high last year

Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

The world's energy-related CO2 emissions reached an all-time high in 2021, according to new data released by the International Energy Agency.

Why it matters: The emissions rebound after the COVID-related economic downturn is another sign that the global economic recovery has not been a "green" or sustainable one.

Between the lines: Global energy-related CO2 emissions increased by 6% in 2021 to reach 36.3 billion tonnes, which was the highest level on record.

  • The year-to-year increase from 2020 to 2021 was the largest on record in absolute terms, the IEA found.
  • The main culprit, according to the IEA, is the increased reliance on coal-fired power plants.
  • The coal binge was largely driven by market conditions, including high natural gas prices.

Of note: When combined with data on methane emissions and other planet-warming gases, the analysis shows that overall greenhouse gas emissions from energy hit their highest level on record in 2021.

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