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March 2, 2024

India’s Energy-Related Carbon Emissions Surge in 2023 Despite Per Capita Improvement: IEA Report

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported a concerning rise in global energy-related carbon emissions, growing by 1.1 per cent in 2023 to reach a new record high of 37.4 gigatonnes (Gt). India’s contribution to this surge was significant, with a combination of strong GDP growth and a weak monsoon driving up energy-related carbon emissions by approximately 190 million tonnes in 2023.

Despite the country’s commendable strides in several areas, India grappled with adverse climatic conditions throughout the year, experiencing a particularly weak monsoon season, notably the driest August in at least 45 years. This climatic challenge led to increased electricity demand and a reduction in hydroelectric production, contributing to around one-quarter of the total emissions increase in 2023.

However, the report also highlights India’s relatively low per capita emissions compared to the global average, signaling a positive aspect amid the concerning rise in emissions. Nonetheless, the country’s energy landscape faces significant challenges, especially concerning carbon emissions from coal, which accounted for over 65 per cent of the global emissions increase in 2023.

The IEA underscores the critical need for a transition towards cleaner energy sources to mitigate the adverse impacts of rising emissions. Despite the global increase in hydropower capacity by around 20 gigawatts (GW) in 2023, the overall generation of hydropower witnessed a record decline due to severe and prolonged droughts affecting major hydropower regions. This decline highlights the vulnerability of traditional energy sources to climate change-induced disruptions.

Furthermore, the report emphasizes the importance of accelerating the deployment of clean energy technologies to curb emissions growth. The IEA notes that without the growing deployment of key clean energy technologies such as solar PV, wind, nuclear, heat pumps, and electric cars, emissions growth would have been significantly higher.

The decade leading up to 2023 witnessed a structural slowdown in emissions growth, primarily attributed to the increasing adoption of clean energy solutions. Despite this positive trend, total energy-related emissions still increased by around 900 Mt between 2019 and 2023, underscoring the urgent need for more aggressive climate action.

The IEA’s report serves as a stark reminder of the challenges posed by rising carbon emissions and the critical importance of transitioning towards sustainable energy systems. As countries worldwide grapple with the complex interplay of economic growth, climatic variability, and energy demands, concerted efforts are needed to drive the global transition towards a low-carbon future.

Rajan Shukla

Rajan Shukla

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