Tuesday 27th September 2016                 Change text size:

Global energy emissions stalled last year



coal power plant by Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr

Figures have been released that suggest global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled for the first time in 40 years without an economic downturn in 2014, “giving hope” that emission targets to avoid dangerous levels of climate change can be achieved.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) states that global carbon emissions stood at 32.3 billion tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the preceding year. The organisation argues that figures suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than previously though.

IEA chief economist, Faith Birol said, ”This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today.”

Over the last four decades there have only been three times when emissions have stood still or fallen when compared to the previous year and all were associated with global economic weakness. However, this is not the case for 2014, which saw the global economy expand by 3%.

Changing energy patterns in China and OECD countries are linked to the significant stalling. Last year China, the world’s largest emitter, increased its electricity generation coming from a range of renewable energy source, such as hydro, solar and wind, as a result cutting its coal consumption. The IEA adds that promoting sustainable growth, such as energy efficiency, in OECD countries is resulting in economic growth decoupling from greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one. It provides much-needed momentum to negotiators preparing to forge a global climate deal in Paris in December: for the first time, greenhouse gas emissions are decoupling from economic growth,” Birol added.

Photo: Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr

Further reading:

EU calls for 60% emission cut by 2050

World needs to act now to close ‘emissions abyss’, says WWF

EU agrees on 40% emission cut climate target

Geoengineering should not replace cutting emissions, say scientists

Rising emissions could ‘dramatically’ increase risk of US megadroughts


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