Global CO2 emissions still rising

05 Décembre, 2019, 02:25 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • 25 2015 steam billows from cooling towers of a power plant operating for the city's power and heating in Beijing

The Global Carbon Project, which puts out emission estimates for across the world every year, has said India's emissions in 2019 (2.6 billion tonnes or gigatonnes) was likely to be only 1.8 per cent higher than in 2018. This growth is at odds with the deep cuts urgently needed to respond to the climate emergency.

South Africans have a serious climate change problem.

This figure translates to a 200 million tonne increase in global carbon dioxide emissions since 2018, where carbon dioxide emissions rose to 36.6 billion tonnes.

Yet with energy demand showing no sign of peaking even with the rapid growth of low carbon technology such as wind and solar power, emissions in 2019 are still set to be four percent higher than in 2015, the year nations agreed to limit temperature rises in the Paris climate accord. Yes, the U.S.'s coal emissions decreased this year, and yes, India's coal emissions are projected to rise, but it's not accurate to say that countries like India are dragging us all down because they aren't decreasing their emissions.

Average per capita emissions were 4.8 tonnes of fossil fuel carbon dioxide per person a year ago. China's is 7 tonnes.

In the USA and Europe, per capita oil consumption is already 5 to 20 times higher than in China and India. Lands took in 3.2 gigatons per year in the last decade, more than 1.5 times the rate in the 1970s. "This year's number is still a new global record".

Coal is the largest contributor of fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions, making up 42% of the global total. USA generation from coal is projected to decline 11% from 2018 to 2019 to a level that has not been witnessed for more than 50 years, about half of what its peak was in 2005.

The growth of emissions is slower this year due to a decline in global coal use in the European Union and the U.S. and the slower growth in use in India and China - the consumer of half of the world's coal. And in the United Kingdom, coal has dropped from 42% in 2012 to only 5% of electricity generation in 2018.

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Though it's been framed as an alternative, most renewable energy being built around the world isn't actually replacing coal or other fossil fuel use at all. In China, coal use is expected to increase by 0.8% this year, with a decline of coal use in the power sector and lower growth in industrial production.

Three years of nearly no growth in emissions between 2014 and 2016 raised hopes that carbon pollution had peaked - hopes undermined by the last two years of increases.

At the same time, increased use of natural gas was the most-important driver of emissions growth in 2019, Canadell said, raising questions over the industry's claim that the fuel serves as a bridge between dirtier coal and cleaner renewables.

Most critical to watch is whether natural gas is replacing or adding to coal use.

In the United States, the study noted that coal is being displaced by gas, and to a lesser extent by solar and wind power, with electricity demand being low in 2019, and a projected decline in oil use slightly in 2019. Projections for increasing private vehicle ownership in China, India and other developing markets suggest demand for oil will continue to grow for years to come.

Airline travel, while representing only 8% of emissions from global oil use, is also growing. As at least 18 countries have shown, national emissions levels can fall as economies grow. There is no blanket tax on carbon emissions, and the first phase gives businesses the chance to find their footing. Major emitters need to step forward and lead the world.

The lower growth in Carbon dioxide emissions, though desirable, is only a positive fallout of the slowdown in the Indian economy, according to the report. That's an increase but not as big of an increase as previous years.

"The fact remains that the world is now on track for a high emissions pathway and we need to decrease emissions to net-zero globally by the middle of this century to stop further warming of the planet", he added.

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