Social Channels


Daily Briefing |


Briefing date 12.04.2023
Emissions from global electricity generation may have now peaked

Expert analysis direct to your inbox.

Every weekday morning, in time for your morning coffee, Carbon Brief sends out a free email known as the “Daily Briefing” to thousands of subscribers around the world. The email is a digest of the past 24 hours of media coverage related to climate change and energy, as well as our pick of the key studies published in peer-reviewed journals.

Sign up here.


Emissions from global electricity generation may have now peaked
New Scientist Read Article

Emissions from global electricity generation may have peaked in 2022 after climbing 1.3% to a new record high, says New Scientist, reporting on a widely-covered new report from thinktank Ember. Reuters says wind and solar accounted for a record 12% of global electricity generation last year, according to the report, with low-carbon sources making up 39% of supplies overall. It adds that wind and solar grew by 17% and 24%, respectively, with this growth covering 80% of the rise in global demand. The newswire adds: “In spite of a global gas crisis and some countries firing back up old coal-fired power stations to meet demand, coal generation grew by 1.1%, while gas-fired power generation declined by 0.2% as high prices made it more expensive to use the fuel.” BBC News quotes Ember saying this year is due to be a “turning point” in the shift away from fossil fuelled electricity. It says: “The authors attribute the expected change to a boom in renewable energy led mainly by China.” The broadcaster quotes one of the report authors saying it is possible that China’s renewable growth will be sufficient to peak its coal-fired generation “earlier than 2025”. It adds: “Making electricity is the single biggest contributor to global warming, responsible for over a third of energy-related carbon emissions in 2021. So phasing out coal, oil and gas in this sector is seen as critical in helping the world avoid dangerous levels of climate change.” Bloomberg quotes Ember lead author Malgorzata Wiatros-Motyka saying of the peak in fossil fuelled electricity generation predicted by the report: “It is the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel age.” The Times and CNBC also have the story.

Elsewhere in electricity-related news, Taiyang News reports that Canadian Solar has announced plans to triple its solar module manufacturing capacity to 60 gigawatts (GW) in 15 months. Energy Monitor looks at data showing “solar and wind are both growing far faster than other new energy technologies of the post-war era”, including nuclear and liquified natural gas (LNG). Le Monde reports that French ministers have asked state-owned utility EDF to look into increasing power output from its fleet of existing nuclear reactors “as has already been done in the US and Belgium”. In the US, the Hill reports that coal made up less than 17% of electricity supplies in the first quarter of 2023, the lowest share on record according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. Reuters reports that US electricity consumption is “expected to slip around 1% in 2023 from the previous year as milder weather slows usage”, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). It continues: “As capacity for renewables like solar and wind ramp up and as natural gas prices ease, the EIA said it expects coal-fired power generation to be 17% less in the spring of 2023 than in the spring of 2022.” Reuters reports separately that the Texas senate has passed “a package of bills that would cut support from wind and solar power and force renewable electricity producers to help pay for new fossil fuel power plants”. The newswire notes: “While the bills sailed through the Senate…and are supported by governor Greg Abbott they will face a tougher fight in the House, with its stronger caucuses of both Democrats and more independent Republicans.” Finally, China Dialogue looks at recent trends in coal power in the EU and China, asking “what can China learn from the EU’s accelerating transition?”

IMF chief, climate leaders pledge to accelerate public-private finance
Reuters Read Article

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued a statement pledging to accelerate public-private finance to help raise the trillions of dollars needed to meet emissions reduction goals, Reuters reports. It says the statement, issued jointly by the IMF, COP28 president-designate Sultan al-Jaber and UN special envoy Mark Carney, “said they would work to make the investment environment more conducive to climate finance by identifying obstacles that impede private sector climate finance, and ‘using innovative financing instruments to scale up private investment in emerging and developing economies’”. Energy Monitor has an article titled: “How to reform multilateral development banks to take on climate change.” It says this week’s spring meetings of the IMF and World Bank are considering calls for reform. A Reuters Breakingviews article by Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN high-level champion for COP27, advocates a new scheme launched at last year’s climate summit called “1% for 1.5C”. Mohieldin explains: “The idea is for MDBs [multilateral development banks] to extend concessional finance terms to middle-income, as well as low-income countries. To pay for renewable energy and essential infrastructure that can help them deal with the increasing risks of climate change, countries like Pakistan, Nigeria and Barbados would be able to borrow at a 1% interest rate, with a 10-year grace period during which they wouldn’t have to pay anything back, and then a 20-year repayment phase.” Separately, an Independent article is titled: “Countries facing most climate disasters already ‘drowning in debt’.” Elsewhere China Dialogue asks: “What’s holding back transition finance in China?”

G7 climate ministers drop language on growing LNG demand in draft
Reuters Read Article

Climate ministers from the G7 group of seven major “advanced” economies have “backtracked for now on earlier language touting growing future demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG)”, reports Reuters. The newswire says: “A previous draft communique for this week’s meeting of G7 climate change and energy ministers had called for ‘necessary upstream investments in LNG and natural gas’ amid the energy fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said ‘demand for LNG will continue to grow’.” It quotes a 5 April draft communique saying: “We recognise that, based on the IEA’s (International Energy Agency) analyses, there would be considerable uncertainty for future demand of natural gas and LNG and consequently there are risks of supply and demand gap to be addressed.” (The latest IEA outlook said there would be effectively no growth in gas demand over the next few decades.) A Reuters “explainer” says: “Japan needs to import nearly everything from oil to liquefied natural gas (LNG), putting a clean energy transition at the core of domestic and foreign policy for this year’s chair of the Group of Seven (G7) developed nations.” Another Reuters article says Japanese companies and climate groups “called on the nation’s government on Wednesday to step up the introduction of renewable energy and quickly adopt carbon pricing to tackle global warming”.

China leads rise in export restrictions on critical minerals, OECD says
Financial Times Read Article

China is “at the forefront of expanding export restrictions on critical minerals that are restricting the availability and raising the price of raw materials needed for a green energy transition”, reports the Financial Times, based on a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The paper continues: “The findings underline that fragmentation in the global economy threatens to drive up the cost of the clean-energy transition and indicates the potential shift in power away from the industrialised west towards mineral-rich nations…The findings were released as western nations, which are import dependent for most critical metals, race to secure the supplies needed to compete in clean energy technologies from batteries to wind farms and fuel cells.” The OECD found that critical mineral export restrictions had “increased more than five-fold in the last decade”, Bloomberg reports. Reuters says: “About a 10th of the global value of exports of raw materials, such as lithium, cobalt and rare earths, needed for electric vehicles and renewable energy, have faced at least one export restriction measure,” according to the OECD.

US: Climate law could insulate Biden’s EV push in court
E&E News Read Article

The latest US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effort to regulate vehicle emissions could gain legal protection from the Inflation Reduction Act, reports E&E News. It says EPA proposals aimed at boosting electric vehicle deployment are unlikely to avoid the legal challenges faced by previous rules. However, it says the Act “is expected to buffer EPA’s anticipated regulation against scrutiny from a federal judiciary where conservative jurists – particularly at the supreme court – are increasingly sceptical of agencies seizing power that hasn’t been specifically delegated to them by Congress”. Bloomberg says the EPA proposals, expected today, “would generate as much as $1.6tn in savings through 2055, a top White House climate official said Tuesday”. Politico reports: “People analysing the small, but growing market for electric cars and trucks say changing tastes among US motorists are smoothing the way for Biden’s efforts to speed up the switch to battery-powered vehicles. Several automakers are pushing their own big shift to electric vehicles – a trend that the Environmental Protection Agency could accelerate with a new auto-pollution rule expected as soon as Wednesday.” The Financial Times “energy source” newsletter says “polling suggests a large majority of Americans remain reluctant to go electric”. The Hill reports: “Nearly half of Americans in a new poll say it’s unlikely they would buy an electric vehicle, citing high prices even as the Biden administration works to up sales of the more environmentally conscious cars.”

In other EV news, Reuters reports: “Ford will retool Ontario factory to build EVs starting next year.” The Times reports: “​​Every ninth car coming off a BMW assembly line is now a fully electric vehicle, according to the latest figures published by the German motor group.” Another Reuters article says: “Hyundai Motor Group to invest $18bn in South Korean EV industry by 2030.” A comment for the Financial Times by business columnist Pilita Clark says: “The failure of electric vehicle charging points is terrible for the planet.” She says: “Electric car sales have continued to rise, but it is clear that car range anxiety has been replaced by charging anxiety to the point that auto industry leaders, not just climate campaigners, are concerned.” An article for the Conversation discusses a recent storyline on BBC radio soap the Archers under the headline: “The Archers’ electric vehicle row shows why rural areas may oppose chargers – but they also have so much to gain.”

European aviation industry warns of €‎800bn bill to reach net-zero
Financial Times Read Article

The European aviation industry “faces more than €‎800bn in extra costs to reach net-zero emissions by 2050”, according to an industry-commissioned report covered by the Financial Times. The paper adds: “The industry has called for significant new support from European policymakers.” Meanwhile, the Times reports from the UK: “The advertising watchdog has banned two adverts by Etihad Airways that showed normal aeroplanes presented as ‘sustainable aviation’.” Bloomberg reports: “The ads, promoted on Facebook in October last year, suggest the Abu Dhabi-based airline is ‘taking a louder, bolder approach to sustainable aviation,’ but failed to back up the claim, the Advertising Standards Authority found in a ruling published on Wednesday.” The Guardian also has the story.

Sinopec’s parent to build China’s first long-distance hydrogen pipeline
South China Morning Post Read Article

China’s largest oil refiner and fuel supplier proposes to build the country’s “first long-distance hydrogen pipeline” to accelerate green energy development, reports South China Morning Post. The firm tells the newspaper that under the current plan, the pipeline, from north China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region to the capital Beijing, could reach a transmission capacity of “500,000 tonnes in the long term, up from the initial 100,000 tonnes”, the outlet adds. The state-run newspaper Global Times covers the same story.

Also in Inner Mongolia, a coal mine has adopted a “driverless, rubber-tired vehicle” that frees miners from entering “the deep mine shafts via walking or riding an outdated small train”, state media China Daily reports. The newspaper calls it a “digital, green transformation in [the] coal industry”.

Meanwhile, Global Times reports that a forum “centred on promoting China’s dual carbon goals and green development” was held in Beijing. Qian Zhimin, chairman of State Power Investment Corporation, told the forum that “state-owned enterprises are well positioned to take the lead in establishing a green, low-carbon and circular economy”, the newspaper adds. 

Separately, Chinese financial media outlet Yicai reports that the most recent data shows that China’s passenger car sales witnessed the weakest month-on-month growth “in a century” for March due to “sluggish demand” and a combination of prices that are obstructing the industry. Despite the trend, the sales of new energy vehicles increased considerably by nearly 22% in March on a year-on-year basis, representing 34% of all sales, the Shanghai-based outlet adds. American news website Axios carries an article, titled “Tesla can’t quit China”, saying that about “22% of Tesla’s revenues come from China”.

Elsewhere, China Daily publishes a comment piece by Christoph Nedopil, associate professor at Fudan University, based on a “policy forum” published by Science magazine. Nedopil writes: “cooperation on greening the Belt and Road Initiative can be successful if Chinese domestic institutions are supportive and working with trusted international partners”. Finally, Reuters has a comment on industrial heating. The piece says China is expected to adopt different approaches to reduce emissions from industrial heating, which is a crucial but extremely “energy-intensive” process for most manufacturers.

Blending hydrogen into gas heating ‘could add almost £200’ to UK bills
The Guardian Read Article

A group of green campaigners, thinktanks and energy firms has written to UK ministers urging them to reconsider plans to blend hydrogen into the country’s gas supplies, the Guardian reports. The group says that a 20% blend of hydrogen in domestic gas supplies, as recommended by the government’s “hydrogen champion”, would “increase the average household’s heating bill by about £192 a year”, the paper adds. It explains: “​​The government is expected to decide this year whether to press ahead with plans for the blending of hydrogen into the UK’s natural gas networks, which could happen as soon as 2025. Ministers are also considering a hydrogen levy on bills to fund its development.” The paper quotes a government spokesperson saying: “The government is working closely with [energy regulator] Ofgem and industry to explore how hydrogen could be fairly incorporated in bills and any final decision on blending will be made alongside a decision on how best to protect consumers.” BusinessGreen also has the story.

Road-building spree will derail UK’s net-zero targets, warn campaigners
The Guardian Read Article

Campaigners have warned that a planned “road-building spree” will derail the UK’s net-zero targets, reports the Guardian. The paper continues: “Campaigners also criticised a new policy by the DfT [Department for Transport] which requires decision-makers to ignore the negative climate impact of road-building and traffic but to give weight to tree planting around schemes as a nature-based solution to climate change. It says an increase in emissions from road schemes is ‘not a reason to prohibit’ their approval.” The paper quotes a DfT spokesperson disputing campaigners’ claims that meeting climate goals “will be possible only with a drastic reduction in motor traffic”. The spokesperson says: “This is incorrect. We are committed to delivering our net-zero ambition and this hasn’t changed since we published our world-leading transport decarbonisation plan.” Separately, the Guardian reports calls from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) for a major boost in spending on public transport, which it says would “unlock a £50bn a year boost to the economy”. It explains: “The report released by the TUC, a federation representing 48 unions, argues for a radical increase in investment – calling for £18bn more a year to be spent on operating trains, trams and buses to help cut car use by 20%, improve quality of life and boost the UK economy.” BusinessGreen also has the story.

BP bets on carbon capture with Harbour Energy deal
The Times Read Article

Oil major BP has bought a 40% stake in a proposed carbon capture and storage (CCS) project on the Humber estuary in northeast England, the Times reports. It adds that the “Viking” CCS scheme, which will be operated by North Sea oil firm Harbour Energy, has already been earmarked for government funding to take carbon emissions from the Humber industrial area and store them in the decommissioned Viking gasfields. The paper says: “The government has promised up to £20bn of financial support for CCS over the next two decades.” The Financial Times reports: “BP’s investment provides significant backing for a project that is among the leading contenders for the government’s next phase of approvals under its Track 2 carbon capture development process.” Bloomberg reports: “BP is in position to lead CCS in the UK, with two of its major projects set to get the first round of funding from the British government.” The Daily Telegraph reports: “Harbour aims to store up to 10m tonnes of carbon dioxide per year by 2030 [via the Viking scheme] , representing around a third of the government’s national target.” It adds: “Two projects based near Hull and Liverpool were picked by the government in October 2021 and fast-tracked to be up and running within a few years. Ministers have indicated the Viking and Acorn projects [in Scotland] could be next in line for support.” CityAM also has the story. Separately, Reuters reports that tech giant Apple has announced an additional $200m investment in a fund it set up two years ago “to invest in projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere”. The fund has a previously stated aim of removing 1m tonnes of CO2 per year, the newswire notes.


The illusion of saving the planet with a trillion trees
Alexandra Heal, Financial Times Read Article

An interactive feature for the Financial Times by visual storytelling reporter Alexandra Heal explores the various pledges to plant trees in the name of cutting carbon emissions, including several separate “trillion-tree” campaigns and “more than a hundred government planting pledges”. The piece explains: “Tallying exactly how many trees or how much land has been promised is impossible because the campaigns are all unclear about how their individual targets overlap with each other. A recent report said governments were separately aiming to plant and restore an area almost four times the size of India.” It continues: “Their intentions are commendable: draw down carbon, nourish biodiversity and improve livelihoods by returning trees to planet Earth. But the simple idea is now rubbing against a complex reality, as some scientists raise myriad concerns – from a dearth of free land to the unreliability of new trees when it comes to carbon storage.” The piece looks at 73 corporate pledge documents filed with the campaign, noting that “at least a third” of the firms are intending to plant trees to offset ongoing emissions. It quotes a scientist calling this “greenwashing”.

UK: Dreams of a low-carbon future caught in tangle of red tape
Emily Gosden, The Times Read Article

A Times feature by energy editor Emily Gosden looks at “the task facing the green energy industry” in the UK. It says: “Britain is targeting a huge increase in low-carbon electricity, not only to reduce climate-harming emissions but also to reduce its reliance on the expensive imported gas that has driven the cost of living crisis…Yet, as executive after executive made clear at the Aurora Spring Forum conference, those trying to deliver Britain’s green ambitions are struggling against the practical realities of red tape and of policy and regulatory delays.” The Times reports separately: “The government will fail to secure any new wind farms through a recently launched auction because the financial support on offer insufficiently reflects soaring costs, the boss of SSE has said.” Another Times article says: “SSE has green projects entailing about £20bn of investment waiting in the wings, all of which have been subject to policy and regulatory delay.” Meanwhile, the Guardian reports: “The world’s deepest offshore wind turbine has been installed almost 17 miles off the coast of Angus as part of Scotland’s biggest offshore windfarm.” Separately, BBC News reports: “The UK is set to be one of the worst performing major economies in the world this year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)…IMF researchers have previously pointed to Britain’s exposure to high gas prices, rising interest rates and a sluggish trade performance as reasons for its weak economic performance.”


A quantitative analysis of marine heatwaves in response to rising sea surface temperature
Science of the Total Environment Read Article

A new study investigates how marine heatwaves (MHW) have changed globally over the past four decades and could change throughout this century. The researchers estimate that global annual average rates of MHW frequency, duration and maximum intensity increased by approximately 3.7 events, 7.5 days, and 2.2C per degree of sea surface temperature rise, respectively. Based on observed changes and climate model simulations, the study projects that the spatial distributions of changes in annual MHW days, frequency, and cumulative intensity could “exhibit two-fold, four-fold, and six to eight-fold increases” under three shared socioeconomic pathways (SSP1-2.6, SSP2-4.5 and SSP5-8.5), respectively”. The “largest changes are projected to occur in the north-east Pacific, the North Atlantic, the south Indian Oceans and parts of the Southern Ocean”, the study notes.

Expert analysis direct to your inbox.

Get a round-up of all the important articles and papers selected by Carbon Brief by email. Find out more about our newsletters here.