Much to the frustration of the climate sceptics, it seems to be renewable energy that is the primary factor in causing global emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide to remain static in 2016. According to a report published in the Guardian newspaper today:
‘All of the world’s biggest emitting nations, except India, saw falling or static carbon emissions due to less coal burning and increasing renewable energy, according to data published on Thursday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA). However other mainly developing nations, including Indonesia, still have rising rates of CO2 emissions.’
The article goes on to quote climate economist Prof Lord Nicholas Stern at the London School of Economics and president of the British Academy, who states:
“These results are a welcome indication that we are nearing the peak in global annual emissions of greenhouse gases … To realise the goals of the Paris agreement and hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2C, we must reach peak emissions as soon as possible and then achieve a rapid decline soon afterwards … These results from the Dutch government show that there is a real opportunity to get on track.”
It appears that climate scientists are more confident now about a peak having been reached, given similar near-standstills in both 2014 and 2015. CO2 emissions from China, the world’s biggest emitter, fell 0.3% in 2016. US CO2 emissions fell 2.0% and Russia’s by 2.1%, with the EU flat, although UK emissions tumbled by 6.4%, as coal burning plunged. Of the top five emitters, only India’s CO2 emissions rose, by 4.7%. Significant increases were also seen in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Turkey and Ukraine.
However, the picture is not all rosy. According to the NEAA report:
‘Stalled global emissions still means huge amounts of CO2 are being added to the atmosphere every year – more than 35bn tonnes in 2016 – driving up global temperatures and increasing the risk of damaging, extreme weather. Furthermore, other heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mainly methane from cattle and leaks from oil and gas exploration, are still rising and went up by 1% in 2016.’