New data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has indicated that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014. This is the first time in over 40 years that there has been a halt or reduction in CO2 emissions that was not linked to an economic downturn.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide stood at 32.3 billion tonnes in 2014, unmoved from 2013. The initial IEA data suggest that efforts to alleviate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.
Fatih Birol, IEA Chief Economist 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.”
According to the IES, the stop in carbon dioxide emissions growth is due to changing energy consumption patterns in China and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. In 2014 China rapidly increased electricity generation from renewable sources including wind, solar, and hydro and reduced the burning of coal. In OECD economies, recent efforts to promote more sustainable growth – including greater energy efficiency and more renewable energy – are producing the desired effect of decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one,” added Birol who was recently named to take over from Maria van der Hoeven as the next IEA Executive Director. “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.”
Only on three occasions in the past 40 years over which the IEA have been collecting data on carbon dioxide emissions has there been a reduction or halt compared to the following year’s results all of which were associated with a global economic downturn; 1980, 1992, and 2009. Last year the global economy grew by 3%.
Further information and details on the data as well as analysis will b e included in an IEA Special Report on Energy and Climate due to be released in London on the 15th of June 2015. The report will aim to provide governments and policy makers with in depth analysis of national climate pledges in the context of the recent reduction in fossil fuel prices. It will also suggest practical policy measures to advance climate goals without reducing economic growth.
Speaking of the publication of this new data Maria van der Hoeven, IEA Executive Director said “The latest data on emissions are indeed encouraging, but this is no time for complacency – and certainly not the time to use this positive news as an excuse to stall further action.”
The reduction in worldwide carbon emissions is fantastic news and with no economic downturn to explain this fall responsibility falls at least in part to renewable energy. With worldwide targets to be met on carbon emissions reduction to be met over the coming years governments will be delighted to see this fall and the positive impact that renewable energy is having in contributing towards it.
However we in the UK are in danger of failing to capitalise on this if we do not continue to promote and develop renewable energy. The current UK government has already stated that should it win the next election, taking place in May 2015, then it plans to scrap all new onshore wind projects.
Whilst we at ILI Energy believe in a strong and varied energy mix, onshore wind is one of more the further developed and therefore less costly types of renewable energy generation. To halt all future developments would be a backwards step at a time when we need to push on and continue the good work done so far.
The benefits of renewable energy are proven and tangible. The reduction of carbon emissions is not surprising but the rate at which it is happening is a very pleasant find. A strong and growing renewable energy industry will go a long way in helping us reach our carbon emission reduction targets.