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Global carbon dioxide emissions and coal consumption both rose in 2017, and the fuel mix in the electric power sector has changed little in 20 years, according to a newly released BP report on worldwide energy data.

Expand chart
Reproduced from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 2018; Chart: Axios Visuals

Why it matters: The findings underscore how, despite gains in low-carbon energy technologies, the world is nowhere near an emissions-cutting pathway that avoids highly dangerous levels of warming.

Trend-spotting: The report shows a 1.6% rise in energy-related emissions — the overwhelming majority — and follows two other recent analyses showing an uptick in CO2 emissions after a three-year hiatus.

  • The BP analysis also shows that global coal consumption ticked up slightly for the first time in four years, fueled by increases in India and — to a lesser extent — China.
  • Improvements in an efficiency metric called energy intensity — that is, energy use per unit of economic output — have slowed.
  • Overall global energy consumption grew by 2.2% in 2017, compared to 1.2% the prior year.

The big picture: BP Chief Economist Spencer Dale cautioned against being "too alarmed" by what the data says about the global shift toward a lower-carbon energy system.

  • He said that promising data in recent years stemmed partly from short-term cyclical factors, such as below-average GDP growth affected by weakness in energy-intensive industrial sectors.
"And sure enough, some of those short-run adjustments came to an end last year. But many of the structural forces shaping the energy transition continued, particularly robust growth in renewables and natural gas."
— BP Chief Economist Spencer Dale, in remarks prepared for the report's release in London

Yes, but: BP's summary of the report notes that the fuel mix in the worldwide electric power sector — which accounts for around 40% of global energy — is "strikingly" unchanged over the last two decades.

  • That is, the relative shares of coal vs. oil-and-gas- vs. non-fossil resources has not shifted greatly. While renewables generation been surging, its happening in the context of growing overall power demand growth that's almost entirely centered in emerging economies.
  • Coal's share of the global power mix in 1998 was 38%, and in 2017 it was...38%. The share of non-fossil resources has actually decreased slightly compared to 20 years ago because the growth of renewables hasn't offset nuclear power's declining slice of the pie, Dale said.

Quoted: Dale, in his speech, says he's more troubled by the persistence of this mix than the recent uptick in CO2 emissions. He called it "striking" in light of the major growth of renewables and policy efforts to shift from coal to cleaner fuels.

  • "To have any chance of getting on a path consistent with meeting the Paris climate goals, there will need to be significant improvements in the power sector," he said.

One level deeper: Here's a few other takeaways from the annual report . . .

  • Natural gas consumption grew by 3%, thanks in part to surging Chinese demand, and oil consumption grew by 1.8%.
  • Renewable power increased by 17%, with wind and solar accounting for the most of the growth.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Former spy Steele defends controversial Trump Russia dossier

Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele arrives at the High Court in London in July 2020. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The author of the "Steele Dossier," containing unverified claims about former President Trump told ABC News he stands by his controversial report, according to excerpts from an upcoming documentary published Sunday.

Why it matters: Former U.K. intelligence officer Christopher Steele's dossier was used as part of former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia's government.

Ina Fried, author of Login
5 hours ago - Technology

Intel CEO sees making own chips as a matter of national security

Pat Gelsinger. Photo: Axios on HBO

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger is putting the pressure on the U.S. government to help subsidize chip manufacturing, insisting the current reliance on plants in Taiwan and Korea as "geopolitically unstable."

Why it matters: There is bipartisan support for funding the domestic semiconductor industry, but Congress has yet to sign the check. The Senate has passed the CHIPS Act that includes $52 billion in semiconductor investment, but it has yet to pass the House.

Updated 5 hours ago - World

17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children are among a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, per a statement from Christian Aid Ministries Sunday.

The latest: "The group of 16 U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children," the Ohio-based group said. Haitian police inspector Frantz Champagne on Sunday identified the 400 Mawozo gang as the group responsible, in a statement to AP.