Growth in global carbon emissions slowed in 2019

Excavators and trucks at a coal mine in South Kalimantan Indonesia

Growth in global carbon emissions slowed in 2019 - report

India's economy, the researchers said, has slowed significantly through 2019, affecting consumption of coal and oil, and production of cement. Another factor contributing to the drop is the above average rainfall in the 2019 monsoon, particularly the heavy rainfall in September that led to flooded coal mines and high hydropower generation. In 2019, China's Carbon dioxide emissions are expected to rise by 2.6 per cent (range 0.7 to 4.4 per cent).

Emissions from burning fossil fuels are projected to be up 0.6% in 2019, to reach nearly 37 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Exeter and the Global Carbon Project said.

The authors pointed out 2019's rise in emissions was slower than each of the two previous years.

The study noted that emissions from coal burning may decrease by 0.9 per cent (-2.0 to +0.2 per cent) compared to 2018.

The rise is due to continuing strong growth in the utilization of oil and gas.

"To counterbalance increasing emissions, we need accelerated energy efficiency improvements and reduced consumption, rapid deployment of electric vehicles, carbon capture and storage technologies, and a decarbonized electricity grid, with new renewable capacities replacing fossil fuels, not supplementing them", the report urges. Though the rate of that growth has slowed-last year emissions grew at a rate of 2.1% while this year they are projected to grow 0.6%-it's still a positive growth rate, notes Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth Sciences at Stanford University and chair of the Global Carbon Project, which just released a new report on thee numbers.

"China had low growth and unexpected declines in CO2emissions over the period 2014 to 2016, but in 2017 and 2018, its Carbon dioxide emissions rose again by 1.7 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively". Emissions in 2019 are expected to decline in both the European Union and United States by 1.7%, as India's emissions are expected to rise 1.8% (notably lower than the past five-year growth rate of 5.1%), China's are expected to rise 2.6% and emissions in the rest of the world are expected to rise 0.5%.

While burning gas emits less Carbon dioxide than coal per unit of energy produced, Glen Peters of the CICERO Center for International Climate Research said that it is only a short-term solution at best.

It's not impossible to do; there are about 20 countries whose economies have grown while their Carbon dioxide emissions have declined, including Denmark, Finland, and the US, and that's thanks to two things: energy use dropped because it became more efficient, and renewables offset or replaced fossil fuels.

In 2019, the world is projected to pump out nearly 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide, driven by demand for oil and natural gas, according to an annual report from the Global Carbon Project, an worldwide research initiative focused on sustainability.

But oil use could still be over 1 per cent higher than in 2017, the researchers added. In Europe, coal-based emissions declined 10% in 2019.

They said this is about 0.8 billion tonnes more levels of Carbon dioxide than seen in 2018. This increase, the study finds, stems partly from increased fire activity in the Amazon as well as unusually high fire rates in forest planted on peatlands in Indonesia.

The report comes just a day after the World Meteorological Organization published its provisional findings of its annual State of the Climate Report, which revealed 2019's global average temperature was 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels, too close for comfort to the below 2°C limit agreed at the Paris Climate Accords, and perilously close to the 1.5°C experts have warned we should actually be aiming for. "But these often add to existing demand for energy rather than displacing technologies that emit CO2, particularly in countries where energy demand is growing", said study co-author Corinne Le Quere from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom".

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