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Climate change

Energy sector is central to efforts to combat climate change

Promoting sustainable development and combating climate change have become intertwined aspects of energy planning, analysis and policy making. Energy accounts for two-thirds of total greenhouse gas, so the energy sector is the central player in efforts to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change.

Key findings

CO2 emissions in the WEO-2021 scenarios, 2000-2050


CO2 emissions rebounded strongly in 2021

Global energy-related CO2 emissions are estimated to have rebounded by more than 4% in 2021 as demand for coal, oil and gas bounced back with the economy. The increase of over 1 200 Mt CO2 would be the largest single increase since the carbon-intensive economic recovery from the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.

The World Energy Outlook 2021 provides a detailed stocktake of how far nations have come in their energy transitions, and a sobering picture of how far there still is to go. The 2.6 Gt difference in emissions between the STEPS and the APS in 2030 highlights the “implementation gap” that exists between announced net zero pledges and the policy frameworks and specific measures that they require: pledges need to be underpinned by strong, credible policies and long-term plans to make them a reality.

Global CO2 emissions by sector, 2019


Power generation is the largest emissions driver

Power generation and transport together accounted for over two thirds of total emissions in 2019 and have been responsible for almost all global growth since 2010. The remaining third was mainly associated with the industry and buildings sectors.

After allocating electricity and heat emissions to final sectors, industry continued to be the largest emitting sector, with over 40% of global emissions in 2019. Emissions in the transport sector increased to account for 27% of the global emissions in 2019, while buildings related emissions slightly decreased to represent 25% of global emissions in 2019.