8 March 2023

The fight against climate change is taking a step in the right direction. The IEA recorded a rise of less than 1% in energy use in 2022. While it’s encouraging, experts suggest an annual 7% reduction is necessary for each year of this decade to keep the 2050 goal within reach.

Green energy production and power-saving measures activated in response to gas supply limitations from Russia led carbon emissions to fall by 2.5% in Europe in 2022.

A record 36.8 billion tonnes of carbon emissions were produced in 2022, a rise of under 1%, a significant decrease from the 6% rise in 2021 driven by the return of economic activity after the pandemic.

The best way of achieving the necessary 7% annual reduction is by continuing the trend of producing record growth in renewable energy. Green Switch Capital is leading the way with our innovative land-leasing programme that repurposes less desirable land, regenerating it for renewable energy projects.

We’re working with thousands of landowners and farmers across the UK to create a sustainable, self-reliant green energy market. Together we can tackle climate change.

Energy Use and CO2 Emissions Begin to Plateau 

While global carbon dioxide emissions are continuing to rise, it appears that they are starting to plateau. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has published research into CO2 emissions from energy use, the largest source of emissions, showing an increase of less than 1% in 2022. This apparent plateau is a positive sign, particularly in the face of the energy crisis exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

The IEA recorded a 6% increase in emissions in 2021. The jump was widely attributed to the bounce-back from society returning to its pre-pandemic norms as the economy rebounded and industries returned to work. 2022’s plateau appears even more encouraging in this context.

Achieving net-zero by 2050 will require global emissions to be halved in this decade. The current picture of global emissions is complex. Rising gas prices are putting countries in a position where coal, which produces higher carbon emissions, is becoming the preferred product.

However, renewable energy is stepping up to present countries with an alternative. Solar and wind power are leading the way, with electric vehicles and heat pumps seeing a rise in commercial and consumer use.

The carbon emission plateau may also be the result of a milder European winter that led to the success of energy-saving measures across the EU. Every percentage increase in greenhouse gas emissions will put us further away from achieving net zero by 2050.

It’s effectively taking one step forward and two steps back. The best way of limiting the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels is by achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The 1.5 degrees limit can only be maintained if global emissions fall by almost 50% within this decade.

The Role of Clean Energy in Lowering CO2 Emissions

Carbon emissions dropped by 2.5% in 2022 across Europe, primarily due to record levels of renewable and clean energy, alongside power-saving measures brought in to mitigate the impact of the war in Ukraine. Europe also benefited from having one of the warmest winters in the last 30 years, another sign of the reality of climate change.

This decline in carbon emissions was only achievable through the rise of clean energy across Europe. The IEA estimates that carbon emissions would be almost three times higher without clean energy. Renewable energy was able to meet 90% of the growth in electricity generation in 2022, with solar and wind generation breaking records during a year that saw record-breaking temperatures.

Solar and wind are leading the clean energy charge. 2022 saw an increase of over 700 terawatt-hours (TWh) of renewable energy, the highest annual rise yet. CO2 emissions would have been over 600 million tonnes higher in 2022 without this jump in renewable energy capacity. The development of solar and wind is estimated to account for over 66% of renewable power growth in the coming years.

Hydropower is also playing its role in accelerating the growth of clean energy. Its annual global output continues to increase year-on-year, even in the face of growing climate challenges. Hydropower is expected to contribute a fifth of the expected growth in clean energy going forward.

The UK’s March Towards Clean Energy

The UK has seen rapid growth in its clean energy output. Renewable energy accounted for only 7% of the UK’s electricity generation in 2010. Fast forward to 2020 and the number had hit over 40%. Within a decade, electricity generated by renewables had overtaken that generated from coal and gas for the first time.

The UK’s march towards clean energy has been steadily gaining momentum as the reality of climate change starts to impact our everyday lives. Solar panels have quickly become the most common source of domestic renewable energy in the UK.

It’s impossible to drive through cities and towns without seeing solar panels on roofs and land. The heatwave of summer 2022 led to a record number of searches for solar panels in the UK.

Wind farms are also becoming more visible across the UK as public perception moves beyond viewing them as an ‘eye sore’.

The rise of solar and wind energy is enabling the UK to continuously break its renewable energy records. The record for wind power generation was broken three times during 2022, hitting 20.918GW on 30th December 2022.

Creating a Sustainable, Self-Sufficient Clean Energy Market

40% of the UK’s electricity in 2022 was covered by renewable energy – including biomass, hydropower, solar, and wind – a jump of 5% year-on-year. The UK also became a net exporter of electric power for the first time in over a decade.

We have the foundation in place to create a sustainable, self-sufficient green energy market in the UK. That’s the goal of Green Switch Capital. We’re working with hundreds of landowners to help Britain achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Green Switch Capital has already invested over £350 million in renewable diversification and is offering landowners guaranteed passive income through our land-leasing programme. Find out more about how you can help us lower energy bills and tackle climate change by contacting our team today.