Monday, March 16, 2015

World CO2 Emissions Unchanged in 2014

The International Energy Agency, IEA, has released its preliminary 2014 estimates of world CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Global emissions of carbon dioxide remained at 32.3 billion metric tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the preceding year. The IEA based in Paris was established in November 1974 in response to the global oil crisis created by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil embargo. Its primary mandate was to promote energy security amongst its member countries. Over the years the mission has evolved to include holding global warming at 2°C by providing policy recommendations for ways to ensure reliable, clean energy for its 28 member countries (which includes the United States).

In the 40 years in which the IEA has been collecting data on carbon dioxide emissions, there have only been three times in which emissions have stood still or fallen compared to the previous year, and all were associated with global economic weakness: the early 1980's; 1992 and 2009. In 2014, however, preliminary data indicates that the global economy expanded by 3%, though revisions may change that. The IEA believes that this suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought as CO2 emissions per dollar of GDP continues to inch down. According to the Financial Times the nations of the world are beginning to decouple growth from carbon emissions pointing to perhaps a sustainable future.

According to the IEA energy consumption shifts in China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, were among the reasons emissions stalled last year. In 2014 China increased their generation of electricity from renewable sources, such as hydropower, solar and wind, and burned less coal substituting natural gas in some instances. As can be seen in the chart to the right, 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. The top CO2 emitters remain China, the United States, the European Union, India, Russia and Japan.

While the latest data on emissions are encouraging, there remain more than 1.2 billion people without access to electricity, or adequate sanitation. If everyone on earth were to have access to electricity and adequate sanitation, CO2 emissions would jump. The IEA will release their full report on June 15th in London.
U.S. CO2 Emissions

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