Global CO2 emissions growth almost halted in 2014, says new report

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Growth in global CO2 emissions almost stalled in 2014 after over a decade of annual increases­­, according to a PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency report ahead of COP21.

2012 and 2013 saw emissions rise by around 1 per cent each year, while there were annual increases of 4 per cent over the preceding 10 years. However, last year growth almost stalled due to a global shift towards low carbon fuels and economic structural changes in China, plus it was the warmest year on record thusfar which limited fossil fuel demand. Last year represented the lowest global growth rate in emissions since 1998, the agency added.

China and the US’ emissions increased by less than 1 per cent, and the EU saw a reduction in emissions of 5.4 per cent. Cancelling out Europe’s progress though, were 7.8 per cent increases in India and 3.3 in Brazil.

The agency explained that adjustments in China played a major role: “China’s economy is structurally changing from a manufacturing and export-oriented economy towards one with a stronger focus on less energy-intensive industries and services as well as on domestic consumption, with more energy efficiency and a low-carbon energy mix. Therefore, it is likely that the very high global annual emission growth rates, as observed in the years 2003 to 2011, will not be seen in the coming years.”

The report showed that the top four emitting countries and regions, China, the US, the EU and India, account for 61 per cent of total global emissions. China proved to be the largest emitter, with 30 per cent of the global share of emissions, but the US topped the list in terms of per capita emissions.

The report warned that despite the statistics, future trends are still uncertain. The agency said: “On a global scale, the slowdown in the emission growth of the last three years can largely be explained by the changes in China’s economy and the associated energy consumption. However, it is uncertain whether this slowdown  also reflects structural changes in the wider global economy, global energy efficiency and the energy mix of other key world players.”

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Photo credit: halfrain from Flickr

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