CO2 stable for 3rd year despite global growth

Posted March 20, 2017

That sweeping transformation of the energy sector could also force fossil fuel companies to leave $10 trillion of coal, oil and gas stranded underground, according to Abu Dhabi-based Irena.

Carbon dioxide emissions fell in the United States and China, the world's two largest energy users and emitters, and were stable in Europe. Credit for the decline was given to increased use of renewables and natural gas, which are making headway in part as a replacement for older, coal-fired plants.

Global GDP could be boosted by around 0.8 percent in 2050, or $1.6 trillion, while the cumulative gain through increased GDP from now to 2050 will amount to $19 trillion, the two agencies said in their joint report "Perspectives for the Energy Transition - Investment Needs for a Low-Carbon Energy System", which was prepared at the request of the German government to provide input for the G20 presidency.

Carbon dioxide emissions from energy have not increased for three years in a row even as the global economy grew, says the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Emissions fell by 1% in China while its economy expanded by 6.7%, due to nuclear and natural gas usage, a move away from coal in the industrial and buildings sector, and an increasing share of renewables - although the country has potential for significant improvement. IEA states that the world's nuclear net capacity is the highest it has been since 1993, with new reactors entering the power grid in China, the United States, South Korea, India, Russia and Pakistan.

The declines are also a sign that market dynamics and tech advancements are having a impact, and are helping separate economic growth from energy emissions, according to Birol. Of course, renewable energy is an important factor in the decline of Carbon dioxide emissions in the world's greatest emitters. "This is especially true in the United States, where abundant shale gas supplies have become a cheap power source". The Agency also indicates that previous year renewable energy sources, including hydropower, supplied more than half of global electricity demand, with hydropower accounted for half of this share.

While these results are positive, there is still a great to deal to be done to further slow the progress of climate change. This is obviously a good thing, but if we are to tackle global warming, the IEA warns, simply stopping the growth of emissions is not enough to limit climate change to 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels.