CO2 emissions flat for third straight year as GDP grows

CO2 emissions declined most in the USA and China - the world's two largest energy users and emitters - mitigating increases in most of the rest of the world, while in Europe they remained stable.

It said emissions in the United States previous year were at their lowest level since 1992, a period during which the economy grew by 80 percent. The IRENA report suggests that more jobs will be created than lost with a switch over to renewables and also differs from the IEA report on the extent to which fossil fuels would continue to be used, especially natural gas.

Last year, the global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector sat at 32.1 billion tonnes (35.4 billion tons), the same it has been for the past three years, while the global economy grew by 3.1 percent.

The world must swiftly shift energy production away from fossil fuels if it is to prevent a unsafe increase in global temperatures, according to separate reports released Monday by two worldwide agencies.

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. Demand for coal was down worldwide, but the decline was particularly sharp in the United States where demand dropped 11%. 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.

"They are also a sign that market dynamics and technological improvements matter", said Birol. "This is especially true in the United States, where abundant shale gas supplies have become a cheap power source". According to the International Energy Agency, who released the figures, this signals a continuing decoupling of emissions and economic activity, something that is seen as important for tackling climate change. Emissions need to fall to 9.5 gigatonnes by 2050 to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures, IRENA said.

A greener energy mix helped keep energy-related carbon dioxide emissions flat in 2016 yet more needs to be done to avert a harmful rise in global temperatures, International Energy Agency (IEA) data showed on Friday. It now needs to be maintained if we are ever going to deal with climate change.

  • Salvatore Jensen