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Welcome to Carbon Brief’s China Briefing.

China Briefing handpicks and explains the most important climate and energy stories from China over the past fortnight. Subscribe for free here.

Key developments

100% tariffs imposed on Chinese EVs following climate envoy meetings

FIRST MEETING: The recently appointed Chinese and US climate envoys Liu Zhenmin and John Podesta met in Washington last week with an aim to build on the “Sunnylands statement” that had restored engagement between presidents Xi Jinping and Joe Biden at their summit last year, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported. At the meeting, Podesta raised issues with Liu including “Chinese overcapacity in solar and battery manufacturing, steel production and coal power”, according to Reuters, adding that “the tone of the talks continued to be cordial”. State-run newspaper China Youth Daily reported comments from Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin saying that the US “expresses willingness to strengthen cooperation with China in addressing climate change”.

100% TARIFFS: Just after Liu’s US visit concluded, Biden announced significant new tariffs on a range of Chinese imports, reported Bloomberg. The outlet quoted Biden saying: “When you [China] make tactics like this, you’re not competing, it’s not competition, it’s cheating. And we’ve seen damage here in America.” According to a breakdown published by Reuters, tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) will quadruple to 100% (plus a separate 2.5% tariff), while solar cell tariffs will double to 50%, lithium-ion EV battery tariffs will increase from 7.5% to 25% and tariffs on critical minerals rise from nothing to 25% this year.

MEDIA REACTION: New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman supported the increased tariffs, saying: “Why not just buy cheap Chinese batteries? Political economy…The Biden administration was able to get large subsidies for renewable energy only by tying those subsidies to the creation of domestic manufacturing jobs. If those subsidies are seen as creating jobs in China instead, our last, best hope of avoiding climate catastrophe will be lost.” However, another New York Times’ comment article by economists Gernot Wagner and Conor Walsh asked the US to not “slam the door on inexpensive Chinese electric vehicles”. Bloomberg columnist David Fickling commented that “Chinese clean tech is not the enemy”, adding “from all the talk of Chinese ‘overcapacity’ coming out of Washington, you might think that the problem of addressing climate change had already been solved…We’ll need all [western nations’] industrial might – plus that of China, and a whole host of countries besides – to get there.” An editorial in the Economist called the tariffs a “bad policy, worse leadership”, saying they “will bring underappreciated economic harms to America and the world”.

CHINA REACTION: The Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi said that the tariffs are the “most typical form of bullying in the world today”, adding “it shows that some people in the US have reached the point of losing their minds in order to maintain their unipolar hegemony”, Reuters reported. State-run newspaper China Daily quoted foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin saying that the US is “making double standards by justifying its own subsidies and exports, while accusing other countries’ subsidies and exports as ‘unfair’ and ‘overcapacity’”. State broadcaster CCTV reposted a statement by the Ministry of Commerce which says that the US move is “a clear example of political manipulation”.

State-backed media disputes US ‘overcapacity’ argument 

PEOPLE’S DAILY: The Communist party-affiliated People’s Daily published comments under the nom-de-plume “Zhong Caiwen”, which is likely linked to the party’s Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission, on 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 and 13 May about China’s manufacturing production capacity under the background of “the US trying its best to exaggerate the so-called ‘overcapacity’ of China’s new energy resources”. The articles claimed that the “overcapacity arguments are designed to ‘curb and suppress China’s superior industries’”, “ignore[ing] the benefits that Chinese products bring to global consumers”, while stressing the contributions China made to tackling climate change.

ECONOMIC DAILY: Meanwhile, state-run media outlets Xinhua, Guangming Daily and Economic Daily carried similar opinions. The Economic Daily, which according to its own introduction, plays an “important role for the communist party’s Central Committee and the State Council in guiding the public opinion towards economy”, ran the headline, “Refuting ‘the theory of overcapacity in new energy’”, on its 6 May frontpage and, “Refuting ‘the theory of overcapacity in new energy’ again”, on the frontpage of 13 May. The two articles argued that the rapid growth in China is “not blind expansion”, but is based on the “urgent need to reduce global carbon emissions” and that the US uses it as “an excuse for more trade barriers”.

DOMESTIC FACTORS: Founder of H&S Capital and former news editor of BBC News Chinese Howard Zhang told Carbon Brief that this “sudden media storm” came “at a time of rising discontent over economic downturn and huge youth unemployment [in China]”. He added that “these anti-West reports help to divert public opinions and reinforce the government’s conspiracy theory that the West, led by the US, is trying to ‘stop China from rising up’ and is trying to ‘choke China off’”. Zhang acknowledged that China “does have a point”, but added it was “worth noting that these reports do not really report on Western concerns objectively and these reports are still mainly targeting the domestic audience”.

INTERNATIONAL OUTLOOK: Isabel Hilton, founder of London-based NGO Dialogue Earth (formerly China Dialogue) told Carbon Brief that the reason behind China arguing its “predominance in key industrial areas was not the result of unfair subsidies”, but because “it is unlikely that either the EU or the US will allow important industrial sectors to be undermined in what they see as unfair completion, with all the political and economic damage that would follow. Hence, the Chinese need to argue that it is not unfair.” Hilton, a visiting professor at King’s College London, added that a key point made by the Chinese media commentary was “China’s model of industrial development is no different from that of Western industrialised countries and that, further, they obey WTO rules and do not restrict or protect their own market…we can debate quite a lot of this, especially the market access point”.

Xi rebuts overcapacity and endorses climate cooperation during visiting Europe

OVERCAPACITY TENSIONS: On 5 May, president Xi commenced a five-day visit to Europe, which he began by meeting French president Emmanuel Macron and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Agence France-Presse reported. The newswire quoted von der Leyen saying the EU “cannot absorb massive over-production of Chinese industrial goods”. In comments covered by the People’s Daily, Xi responded that “there is no such thing as ‘China’s overcapacity problem’”. Meanwhile, China and France signed the “Sino-French joint declaration on strengthening cooperation on biodiversity and the oceans: Kunming-Montreal to Nice”, to deepen cooperation on biodiversity protection, People’s Daily reported.

PRE-READ: Le Figaro published an article by Xi ahead of his arrival in France, in which he noted that Sino-French cooperation “spearheaded cooperation in aviation and nuclear energy”. He added: “Our two countries can deepen cooperation on innovation and jointly promote green development…The Chinese government supports more Chinese companies in investing in France. And we hope that France will ensure that they operate in a fair and equitable business environment.” State newswire Xinhua published an official English translation of the piece.

OTHER COUNTRIES: Meanwhile, Xi also visited Serbia and Hungary, where the South China Morning Post said he “upgraded relations with China’s two closest allies in Europe”. German chancellor Olaf Scholz did not meet Xi in person, but told journalists at a press conference that there are “many overlaps” between China and western automotive manufacturers, Reuters reported. State-run outlet Reference News quoted the German federal minister for digital affairs and transport saying “we don’t want to close off markets” to Chinese EVs.

EU SOLAR PROBE: Following the EU’s launching of a probe into Chinese solar companies last month, Longi and Shanghai Electric withdrew tenders to supply a Romanian solar park in “the latest sign that the EU’s new anti-subsidy powers are having a deterrent effect” on companies suspected of receiving Chinese subsidies, the Financial Times said. It quoted the EU internal markets commissioner saying the regulation ensures “foreign companies which participate in the European economy do so by abiding [by] our rules”.

China’s low-carbon energy boost 

NEW DATA: China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported that China’s electricity generation from wind and solar increased 25% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2024. In the same period, electricity generated from coal declined. According to data from National Energy Administration (NEA), the total solar capacity in the first quarter of 2024 reached 45.7 gigawatts (GW), China Energy Net reported. In addition, China’s low-carbon electricity capacity will be enlarged with the State Council approving the construction of a 2GW offshore solar project at Lianyungang city, economic newswire Jiemian reports. Once being constructed, it will connect with eight existing nuclear power plants and become a 10GW “mega” renewable energy project, added the outlet.

NEW RESEARCH: A new paper covered by Carbon Brief found that China’s rising electricity demand can be met more cheaply through a combination of solar plus battery storage than by building new coal capacity. Carbon Brief also covered a study by the China Energy Transformation Program, a project under China’s Energy Research Institute, that finds electrification, greater energy efficiency and a low-carbon power system could help China develop a net-zero emissions energy system by 2055, five years earlier than its “dual carbon” goal planned.


Interview: China’s renewables ‘pave the way to rapidly reduce coal reliance’ 

A new report by Australia-based thinktank Climate Energy Finance argues that China could reach its “dual carbon” climate goals earlier than planned.

Carbon Brief interviews the author of the report to find out more. The questions and their answers are edited for length and clarity. The whole interview is available on Carbon Brief’s website.

Carbon Brief: Your report concluded that China’s coal power output will soon peak and decline – despite rising coal capacity – thanks to the rapid rise of clean energy sources. How widely do you think that potential tipping point is understood, both within China and internationally?

Xuyang Dong: This potential is not being understood or acknowledged enough both within China and internationally. China is prioritising energy security over the need to reduce coal-use…Concurrently, China is increasing renewable energy capacity at a staggering pace that far outstrips every other nation on the planet.

Internationally, news headlines continue to emphasise that China is building new coal-fired power plants, leading to a lack of confidence about China’s commitment to decarbonising its national electricity grid…However, the picture is more positive when we look at installed capacity. At the end of March this year, 53% of China’s installed capacity was zero-emissions.

CB: If China is to announce more ambitious climate goals and expand renewable energy like you suggested in the report, in your opinion, what are the barriers?

XD: We are aware there are concerns over China’s land use as a major constraint for building more wind and solar farms. We have run a case study on a 1.5GW solar project being built in the Tengger Desert in Ningxia Province. The project has 3.5 million solar modules installed, and only took up 0.1% of the total desert. In our model, we estimate that China needs to install a total of 5,405GW of new solar capacity to reach its dual-carbon targets and that may require only 11% of a total land area of the Gobi Desert, a neighbouring desert to Tengger.

The real challenge is that… more transmission lines are needed to maximise the renewable energy generation potential of China’s desert areas, and to resolve China’s land use constraints in the east coast.

CB: What do you think about policy support?

XD: I think being more ambitious in the overall climate target would be a good start… Considering its political system is “top-down”, a more ambitious target could help the central government to give out more mandates, build better transmission lines and distribute the generated power into the areas that are needed.

Internationally, China needs to align with other developed countries to take its responsibilities as the leading renewable superpower, and the carbon price would be an important policy lever… A further driver would be for other nations to also catch up with China’s staggering renewable expansion, and start to emulate its speed and scale, so there will be no excuse left for China to do less.

CB: What do you think about China’s “new three” – solar, batteries and EV – and how they help China in energy transition and economy?

XD: The “new three” has played a very huge part in China’s economic growth [in 2023]…I know there are a lot of concerns about this overcapacity in the industry, such as in the EU and the US, and I think for China to address the concerns over industrial overcapacity, it needs to, first, stimulate domestic demand and deployment of solar and wind farms, energy storage systems buildout and EV sales. Secondly, China could use its cheap renewable exports to help emerging markets and developing economies to build more renewable energy capacity, boosting and accelerating the global energy transition. Finally, it should be collaborating on joint ventures with European and US investors to build local factories.

Watch, read, listen

ENVIRONMENT ‘SPY’: The South China Morning Post reported that China’s top spy agency claimed two foreign NGOs and foundations had stolen “environmental data” from China.

FLOODING AI: A new artificial intelligence (AI) model was developed by Chinese scientists to forecast flood risks and monitor hydrological conditions even in basins lacking hydrological records, another South China Morning Post article reported.

NEA COMMENT: The Communist party-affiliated magazine Current Affairs Report published an article written by the head of China’s National Energy Administration (NEA), Zhang Jianhua, about “high-quality development of new energy”.

G7’S STRATEGIES: EU-China environmental cooperation specialist Arvea Marieni wrote a comment on G7’s climate strategies for China’s state broadcaster CGTN.

New-energy vehicles reach record-high share of monthly passenger car sales

In April 2024, nearly half of cars sold in China were electric vehicles (EVs) or plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), which are known collectively as “new-energy vehicles” (NEVs). According to figures from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA), NEVs made up 44% of sales in April, up from 34% a year earlier and just 4% during the same month in 2020.

New science 

Impact of flowering temperature on lychee yield under climate change: a case study in Taiwan
Climate Services

A decline in the number of cooler days as a result of climate change could make existing varieties of lychee “unsuitable for cultivation in production areas in southern Taiwan”, a new study says. With some lychee farmers in Taiwan already experiencing economic losses as the climate warms, the researchers project a decline in lychee yields per hectare of 12-35% by the end of the century.

China Briefing is compiled by Wanyuan Song and Anika Patel. It is edited by Wanyuan Song and Dr Simon Evans. Please send tips and feedback to

The post China Briefing 16 May 2024: Biden’s 100% tariffs on Chinese EV; State media pushback; Xi’s Europe trip appeared first on Carbon Brief.

China Briefing 16 May 2024: Biden’s 100% tariffs on Chinese EV; State media pushback; Xi’s Europe trip

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“Many people do not realize how rarely they actually use the things they own.” 



Axel Hygglo
Axel Hellström, Head of Growth at Hygglo

Renting is often both cheaper and easier. Hygglo offers a modern and sustainable solution to access the items you need, without having to own them. The platform handles payments securely, and insurance is always included when you rent, allowing you to focus on using the item without worrying about potential damage. The selection is wide – from trailers to party supplies, outdoor gear, tools, and electronics.

In recent years, the rental market has changed significantly. Previously, around 2016 to 2018, many large retail companies attempted to enter the rental market, from Clas Ohlson to Filippa K. However, most of these companies have withdrawn their efforts.

“I hope this is only temporary and that more major players will try to adopt more circular models again,” says Axel Hellström, Head of Growth at Hygglo.

The renting business expands

At the same time, the growth of specialized rental providers, such as car, boat, and general item rentals like Hygglo, has increased significantly.

“The average person rents more today than in 2016, but this growth has primarily occurred through specialized platform providers instead of larger companies,” explains Axel.

One of the biggest challenges is to break the consumption pattern. For many, buying something feels easier, even though renting is often both cheaper and easier. Hygglo wants to show how much cheaper it is per usage hour to rent instead of buying and owning.

Big costs associated with ownership

There are many costs associated with ownership, both direct such as purchase cost and maintenance, and indirect such as storage space.

“This is why it is almost always cheaper to rent, even if it is an item you use several times a year,” Axel Hellström points out.

Many people also do not realize how rarely they actually use the things they own. Hygglo strives to make it clear how easy it is to rent. The items are often close at hand, and the process is smooth.

Try Hygglo!

The post “Many people do not realize how rarely they actually use the things they own.”  appeared first on GoClimate Blog.

“Many people do not realize how rarely they actually use the things they own.” 

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DeBriefed: Deadly heat grips globe; Cost of cutting ‘green crap’ in UK; Rewilding with beavers



Welcome to Carbon Brief’s DeBriefed.
An essential guide to the week’s key developments relating to climate change.

This week

Global heatwave

SOUTH ASIA: Extended and severe heatwaves that continue to grip 50% of northwest India have claimed at least 110 lives and caused 40,000 to suffer from suspected heatstroke, the Hindustan Times reported. Delhi recorded its highest ever minimum temperature in a 55- year record this week, when night-time temperatures did not drop below 35.2C, the Hindu reported. Reuters reported that a senior government official said “Indian cities have become heat traps” due to unbalanced urban growth reducing water availability.

EAST ASIA: Meanwhile, state-run newspaper China Daily reported that the nation is “experiencing more frequent and intense heatwaves due to global warming”, according to China’s National Climate Centre. It added that the average heatwave starting date has advanced by 2.5 days per decade. The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that extreme weather has continued in China this week, including deadly torrential rain and drought conditions.

DEADLY PILGRIMAGE: In the Middle East, more than 1,000 hajj pilgrims have reportedly died amid scorching heat in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Sky News reported. Agence France-Presse said that temperatures reached 51.8C in Mecca as around 1.8 million people took part in the “days-long, mostly outdoor” pilgrimage. It added that the death toll is expected to rise further as many continue to search for family members.

US FURNACE: Tens of millions of people in the US were under dangerous heat warnings this week as some cities faced record-breaking temperatures, the Associated Press reported. The Guardian reported that about 80% of the country’s population are experiencing “a kind of heatwave not seen in decades”, which brought prolonged periods of temperatures above 32.2C, “under a weather phenomenon known as a heat dome”.

‘BRUTAL’ EUROPE: After registering Europe’s highest recorded temperature of 48.8C in 2021, Sicily is again having to turn away tourists as “brutal heatwaves” have led to crops dying and farm animals facing slaughter, reported the Times. Elsewhere in Europe, a wildfire near Athens, Greece forced dozens to flee their homes, reported Reuters. Officials said the fire was the result of arson and spread quickly in hot, dry conditions, the newswire added.

Around the world

  • G7 DROPPED: The G7 group of major economies has pledged to speed up their transition away from fossil fuels at a summit in Italy, Reuters reported. It added that activists were unhappy at the pace of progress.
  • RECORD RENEWABLES: Wind and solar combined added more new energy to the global mix than any other source for the first time in history in 2023, according to Carbon Brief analysis of newly released data.
  • PEAKING CHINA: China has reduced power from fossil fuels and boosted solar and hydro, “feeding hopes that the world’s biggest polluter may have peaked emissions years before its own deadline”, Bloomberg reported. Carbon Brief analysis in May found China may have peaked its emissions in 2023.
  • CONFLICT DAMAGE: A UN report found that Israel’s assault on Gaza has caused environmental damage, “deeply harming people’s health, food security and Gaza’s resilience”, according to Reuters.
  • NATURE WIN: After months of stagnation, the EU’s nature restoration law was voted through by ministers at the EU council, the Financial Times reported.
  • STRANDED BY SLIDES: Al Jazeera reported that landslides triggered by heavy rain have left hundreds of thousands of people stranded and at least 15 dead in India and Bangladesh.

$1.1-1.3 trillion

The amount of climate finance developing countries at Bonn want developed countries to provide to them every year, according to Climate Home News.

Latest climate research

  • New research in Environmental Research Letters suggested that the Arctic will be “ice-free” – that is, where sea ice extent drops below one million square kilometres – at the end of summer when global warming reaches between 1.5C and 2.2C above pre-industrial levels.
  • Ocean-based carbon dioxide removal techniques such as ocean alkalinity enhancement have been “overlooked”, a research paper in Environmental Research Letters argued.
  • The extreme heat that hit southwestern US, Mexico and Central America from May to June this year was 35 times more likely and 1.4C hotter due to climate change, new analysis by the World Weather Attribution network found.

(For more, see Carbon Brief’s in-depth daily summaries of the top climate news stories on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.)


Cutting the 'green crap' has added £22bn to UK energy bills

New Carbon Brief analysis by Dr Simon Evans revealed that the UK’s energy bills were £22bn higher over the past decade than they would have been if successive Conservative governments had not cut the “green crap” by rolling back climate policies for areas such as insulating homes, new home building standards and onshore wind and solar growth. The chart above shows how lack of progress on various climate measures has added to UK energy bills from 2015-2024. The cutting back on green measures has also raised net gas imports by a third, making the UK more reliant on gas imports and leaving customers more exposed to high gas prices, the analysis said. Carbon Brief is continuing to track where UK parties stand on climate change and energy ahead of the country’s general election.


Can beavers help the UK adapt to climate change?

This week, Carbon Brief looks at the evidence on the potential pros and pitfalls of reintroducing beavers to help deal with rising climate risks in the UK.

From Narnia to the Ice Age franchise, beavers have a spot as a charismatic, comical and – until recent years – somewhat mythical animal in British popular culture.

Beavers were hunted to extinction in Britain 400 years ago, and to near extinction in Europe. Memory of their presence in Britain survives in place names, such as Beverley Brook in London.

Given their reputation, it is perhaps surprising that they have also been called “climate heroes”, “ecosystem engineers” and, more recently, “heatwave heroes”. 

Such labels come from beavers’ ability to alter the landscapes around them, offering benefits such as lowering flood risk or providing new habitats for biodiversity.

It is these benefits that have seen beavers reintroduced to some areas of England and Scotland.

Climate and biodiversity benefits

Beavers are a keystone species, which means they have an inordinately large impact on their natural environment, with the ability to define their ecosystem.

They use their huge front teeth to fell trees, building dams and lodges,which subsequently hold back huge volumes of water to create a wetland habitat.

The animals do this to create their ideal environment – one with deep water so they can hide from predators. However, they also inadvertently create an oasis for a variety of wildlife.

European beaver on the River Tay, Scotland, UK.
European beaver on the River Tay, Scotland, UK. Credit: Gregg Parsons / Alamy Stock Photo.

Earlier this week, the Guardian reported that, after living in the wild for 15 years in Scotland, beavers create the “perfect conditions” for endangered native water voles to flourish.

Prof Richard Brazier, director of the Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste at the University of Exeter, said the main climate benefits beavers can provide were enhancing water and carbon storage. He told Carbon Brief:

“Beaver ponds store a lot of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. Beavers coppice [chop down] species like willow. When they regrow, it enhances carbon storage in the landscape.”

Climate change is making many types of extreme weather events, including droughts, more likely and more intense.

Beaver wetlands are known to remain oases in otherwise cracked, dry land. The water stored in beaver ponds slowly seeps into the surrounding soil during dry periods, keeping the area green.

In the US, research found that wetland habitats created by beavers are resistant to wildfires because the area is simply too wet to burn.

Perhaps the most well-known link between beavers and climate adaptation is their alleviation of flood risks.

In March, the UK government’s Environment Agency reported that, after five years of beaver activity in an enclosed area, the impact of flooding was reduced in Spains Hall Estate, Essex.

In Devon, scientists last month concluded a 10-year study finding that beavers are “having a positive impact on flood and drought alleviation” by storing 24m litres of water and reducing storm flows by 30% during heavy rainfall, keeping downstream homes safer from floods.

Human-animal conflict

Other studies on beavers have warned that friction between the animals and adjacent landowners must be a central consideration for successful reintroduction.

Under certain circumstances, their natural engineering can interfere with human infrastructure and farming.

Some farmers are concerned that beaver activity causes flooding and damage to crops. Others worry that tree felling could cause damage to houses nearby.

Occasionally, beaver burrows can collapse, and damage property or machinery nearby.

Brazier told Carbon Brief that “tensions can arise” when humans “try to resist the natural instinct of the beaver to create deep water pools”. He added:

“If there are downsides, these relate to the ways in which, by building dams, beavers put water back on floodplains, when humans tend to want to remove this water, such as for agriculture. But these low-lying landscapes are floodplains, they are meant to be underwater periodically, and indeed, whether beavers are reintroduced or not, they will be more inundated by flooding in the future, under climate change scenarios.”

Beaver releases

Despite opposition from some groups, momentum has been gradually building for beavers’ return to the wild.

It is still illegal to reintroduce beavers in Britain without a licence.

In 2009, illegal releases were made in Tayside, Scotland and Devon, England. It is unknown where the beavers came from. 

The first licence for beaver reintroduction was given for an enclosed area in Ham Fen in Kent in 2001.

In 2009, the first licensed reintroduction of beavers into the wild occurred in Knapdale, Scotland, with the animals shipped in from Norway.

In 2021, the government allowed the illegally released beavers in Devon to remain wild.

Beavers are also being reintroduced into cities. They were reintroduced in Enfield, north London in 2022 – and it was there that the first kit was born in London last summer.

Beavers were declared a native species in 2016 in Scotland and in 2022 in England.

However, the UK government is yet to introduce a national strategy for beaver reintroduction – “missing a huge opportunity to deliver profound benefits”, according to Brazier.

Watch, read, listen

MOVIE MAGIC: Showing in UK and Irish cinemas, Wilding tells the story of a couple who in 2001 handed over their 4,000-year-old estate and struggling farm to nature.

STORY TIME: With the help of woolly mammoths and dinosaurs, Christine Shearer and illustrator Kaz Clarke have published “The Everywhere Atom: A Journey Through The Carbon Cycle and Climate Change”, telling the story of the carbon cycle to children.
NATURE VOTE: With the UK general election two weeks away, Carbon Brief’s Dr Simon Evans spoke to Radio 4’s Rare Earth about how climate and the environment feature in the main political parties’ manifestos.

Coming up

Pick of the jobs

DeBriefed is edited by Daisy Dunne. Please send any tips or feedback to
This is an online version of Carbon Brief’s weekly DeBriefed email newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

The post DeBriefed: Deadly heat grips globe; Cost of cutting ‘green crap’ in UK; Rewilding with beavers appeared first on Carbon Brief.

DeBriefed: Deadly heat grips globe; Cost of cutting ‘green crap’ in UK; Rewilding with beavers

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Analysis: Wind and solar added more to global energy than any other source in 2023



In 2023, wind and solar combined added more new energy to the global mix than any other source, for the first time in history, according to Carbon Brief analysis of newly released data.

Nevertheless, record global demand for energy saw coal and oil use also reaching new highs last year, the Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy 2024 finds.

This pushed global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to another record in 2023, the world’s first full year with no impact from the coronavirus pandemic, the data shows.

Key figures from the report include:

  • Global energy demand reached a record high of 620 exajoules (EJ) in 2023, with annual growth of 2.0%, slightly above the 1.5% per year average for the last decade.
  • Wind and solar together were the largest source of new energy in 2023, adding 4.9EJ or 40% of the increase overall. The rest of the net increase came from oil (+4.8EJ, 39% of the increase), coal (+2.5EJ, 20%), nuclear (+0.4EJ, 4%) and other non-hydro renewables (+0.5EJ, 4%), while gas stayed flat and hydro declined (-0.9EJ, -8%).
  • Global energy use from coal grew 1.6% year-on-year to a record high of 164EJ, passing the previous record of 162EJ, set a decade earlier in 2014.
  • Global energy use from oil grew 2.5% to a record high of 196EJ, comfortably above the previous high of 193EJ set in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Global energy use from gas was unchanged at 144EJ. It has now flatlined for two years since the global energy crisis, due to Russia cutting off gas supplies to Europe.
  • Global electricity generation from coal grew by 189 terawatt hours (TWh, 1.8%) year-on-year to a record high of 10,513TWh. This was despite wind and solar adding a record 537TWh of new generation, up a combined 15.7% year-on-year to 3,967TWh.
  • The new highs for coal and oil use drove global emissions to another record, with releases from fossil fuel burning, industrial processes, methane and flaring topping 40bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) for the first time.

With global temperatures inching closer to the 1.5C limit, time is running out to peak and then decline emissions in order to avoid dangerous levels of warming. The new figures show the world is still going in the wrong direction, with new records for coal, oil and CO2 emissions.

Yet there are hints that, beyond today’s data for 2023, the world could be turning a corner, as emissions from China – and the global electricity system – may already have peaked.

This is the second edition of the statistical review published by the Energy Institute. Carbon Brief covered earlier editions, published by oil major BP, in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Wind and solar make history

One of the most striking details in this year’s report is that wind and solar, when combined, added more new energy to the global mix in 2023 than any other source, as shown in the figure below.

The combined 4.9EJ of new energy from wind and solar in 2023 accounted for 40% of the overall increase in global demand, ahead of oil (39%) and coal (20%).

This is the first time in history that these newer forms of renewable energy have outpaced each of the fossil fuels, which remain the world’s dominant sources of energy.

Annual change in global energy demand in 2023, by source, exajoules.
Annual change in global energy demand in 2023, by source, exajoules. Source: Carbon Brief analysis of Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy 2024. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Still, the significant increases in demand for energy from oil (+4.8EJ) and coal (+2.5EJ), shown in the figure above, resulted in yet another increase in global CO2 emissions.

The drop in hydro output – also shown above – resulted from major droughts around the world in 2023, particularly in China. This shortfall was largely met by increased coal power.

Along with the continued rapid expansion of wind and solar, a recovery in hydro generation from last year’s lows is expected to contribute to a peak in emissions from the global power sector.

While global demand for oil and gas is not expected to peak until later this decade, reductions in coal use could still drive a near-term peak in global CO2 emissions.

Record highs for coal and oil

The record 4.9EJ of new energy added by wind and solar in 2023 marks a continuation of their rapid growth over the past decade, shown in the figure below.

In combination, wind and solar now contribute 37EJ to the global energy system, up 15% year-on-year. Their combined output has grown at an average 17% per year for the past decade, taking them from a total of just 8EJ in 2013 to the 2023 figure of 37EJ.

As the figure below shows, wind and solar overtook nuclear power in 2021 and, in combination, they are likely to overtake hydropower this year.

Still, it is clear from the figure that the global energy system remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

At a new record of 196EJ in 2023, oil is the world’s largest source of energy, accounting for nearly a third of the total (32%) energy mix and having grown nearly every year for the past half-century.

Coal is in second place, at 164EJ in 2023 or 26% of the mix. While this, too, marks a new record, global coal demand has been flat for the past decade. Indeed, at one point it seemed that the previous 2014 record of 162EJ might have marked a lasting peak for the fuel.

Global electricity generation by fuel, terawatt hours, 1990-2023.
Global electricity generation by fuel, terawatt hours, 1990-2023. Source: Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy 2024. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Notably, the figure above shows that global gas demand has now flatlined for the past two years. While the future trajectory for the fuel remains uncertain, this recent trend illustrates why the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in late 2022 that the “golden age of gas” had been brought to an end by the global energy crisis, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier that year.

In total, fossil fuels met some 81.5% of global primary energy demand in 2023, as shown in the figure below. While this is a record low, it is only around 4 percentage points lower than a decade earlier – and 5 percentage points below the level seen in 1990.

Share of global primary energy demand from fossil fuels and clean energy, %, 1965-2023.
Share of global primary energy demand from fossil fuels and clean energy, %, 1965-2023. Source: Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy 2024. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Energy Institute chief executive Nick Wayth told a pre-release press briefing that the data could be interpreted to suggest that the global energy transition “has not even started”:

“At the global level, today’s new data provides little encouragement in terms of global climate change mitigation. Clean energy is still not even meeting the entirety of demand growth and therefore at a global level not displacing fossil fuels. Arguably, the transition has not even started.”

However, this interpretation hides a “lopsided” picture for different parts of the world, Wayth said. “Fossil demand is likely to be peaking” in the major economies of Europe and the US, he explained, even as countries in the Global South are “still carbonising”.

Electricity system in flux

To date, the energy transition has had the most dramatic impact on the global electricity system, as the figure below shows. Wind and solar generation has grown from a combined 774TWh in 2013 to nearly 4,000TWh in 2023 – more than quintupling in a decade.

Together, wind and solar accounted for 13% of global electricity supplies in 2023, up from 3% a decade earlier. Still, rapidly-rising demand for electricity, which is expected to accelerate as heat, transport and industry are increasingly electrified, means that coal power reached a record high of 10,513TWh in 2023.This cements its position as the single-largest contributor to the mix.

Global primary energy demand by fuel, exajoules, 1965-2023.
Global primary energy demand by fuel, exajoules, 1965-2023. Source: Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy 2024. Chart by Carbon Brief.

Low-carbon sources of clean energy, including nuclear and renewables, now make up a record high 39% of global electricity supplies, ahead of coal at 35%. With gas making up a further 23% of the mix, the majority of the world’s electricity is still being generated with fossil fuels.

The expansion of wind and solar is expected to continue and even accelerate – particularly if the global goal of tripling renewable capacity by 2030 is to be met.

Combined with a recovery in global hydropower output, following a series of major droughts, this could force fossil fuel power into the beginning of structural decline in 2024.

Record CO2 emissions

Taking all of the pieces together, the record for coal and oil use along with flat demand for gas means global CO2 emissions reached a new high in 2023, the Energy Institute’s data shows. This is despite the record amounts of new energy added by wind and solar power.

In total, global emissions from fossil fuels, industrial processes, methane and flaring breached 40GtCO2e for the first time in 2023, as shown in the figure below.

China’s emissions grew by 708m tonnes of CO2e (MtCO2e, 6%) year-on-year, accounting for 85% of the net increase globally (829MtCO2e). India’s emissions also grew strongly, up 257MtCO2e (9%), while emissions in the US and EU fell by 140MtCO2 (2.7%) and 188MtCO2e (6.6%) respectively.

Global emissions from energy use, industrial processes, methane and flaring, billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, 1990-2023.
Global emissions from energy use, industrial processes, methane and flaring, billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, 1990-2023. Source: Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy 2024. Chart by Carbon Brief.

The Energy Institute estimate confirms earlier analysis from the Global Carbon Project (GCP) and the IEA, both of which found fossil fuel CO2 emissions had reached a new record high in 2023.

However, GCP estimates including CO2 emissions from land use change put 2023 just below the record set in 2019, with the total having been roughly flat for a decade.

Looking ahead, the key question for global emissions is whether China has already peaked and, if so, how quickly its emissions begin to fall. If it has, then it would add to continued emissions reductions in developed countries and likely outweigh increases elsewhere.

The post Analysis: Wind and solar added more to global energy than any other source in 2023 appeared first on Carbon Brief.

Analysis: Wind and solar added more to global energy than any other source in 2023

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