Despite widespread expectations of a potential increase, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions stopped growing in 2019, according to IEA data released this February.
After two years of growth, global emissions remained unchanged at 33 gigatons in 2019, even as the world economy expanded by 2.9%. This was mainly due to a decrease in emissions from electricity generation in advanced economies, thanks to the growing role of renewable sources (mainly wind and solar), the shift of fuel from coal to natural gas and increased nuclear power generation. Other factors include a warmer climate in several countries and slower economic growth in some emerging markets.
"Now we have to work hard to ensure that 2019 is remembered as a definite peak in global emissions, not just another growth pause. The IEA is building a broad coalition focused on reducing emissions, encompassing governments, businesses, investors and all with a genuine commitment to addressing our climate challenge".
Which countries reduced their CO2 emissions the most?
A significant decrease in emissions in advanced economies in 2019 offset continued growth elsewhere. The United States recorded the largest decrease in emissions at the country level, with a drop of 140 million tons, or 2.9%. U.S. emissions have now declined by nearly 1 gigatonne since their peak in 2000. Emissions in the European Union fell by 160 million tonnes, or 5%, by 2019 due to reductions in the electricity sector. Natural gas produced more electricity than coal for the first time, while wind power almost caught up with coal-fired electricity. Japan's emissions fell by 45 million tons, or about 4 per cent, the fastest pace of decline since 2009, as production from recently restarted nuclear reactors increased. Emissions in the rest of the world grew by about 400 million tons in 2019.
In advanced economies, emissions from the power sector declined to levels last seen in the late 1980s, when electricity demand was one-third lower than today. Coal-fired power generation in the advanced economies declined by almost 15 per cent as a result of the growth of renewable energy, a shift from coal to gas, an increase in nuclear power and weaker electricity demand.
"This welcome halt in emissions growth is a reason for optimism that we can meet the climate challenge in this decade." "It is evidence that clean energy transitions are underway, and it is also a sign that we have an opportunity to significantly move the needle on emissions through more ambitious policies and investments"
To support these goals, the IEA will publish a special World Energy Outlook Report in June that will map out how to reduce energy-related carbon emissions by one-third by 2030 and put the world on track to achieve long-term climate goals.
The Agency will also hold an IEA Clean Energy Transition Summit in Paris on 9 July, bringing together government ministers, CEOs, investors and other key stakeholders from around the world with the aim of accelerating the pace of change through ambitious and real solutions.
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