Global carbon emissions from energy flatlined in 2019

Global carbon emissions from energy flatlined in 2019, raising hope for the climate fight, data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests.

Figures show that global emissions from energy were unchanged at 33 billion tonnes in 2019, after two years of growth, mostly due to declining pollution from electricity generation in developed countries.

More renewables such as wind and solar, a switch from coal to natural gas and higher nuclear power generation all helped keep emissions from growing despite global economic growth of 2.9%, the IEA said.

Milder weather in several countries and slower economic growth in some emerging economies also played a part, the organisation said.

There was a significant decrease in emissions in developed countries, offsetting continued growth in other nations.

The US, where Donald Trump has sought to promote coal power, recorded the largest emissions decline for any country with a fall of 140 million tonnes or 2.9%, the data shows.

In the European Union emissions fell by 160 million tonnes, or 5%, as a result of reductions in the power sector, with natural gas producing more electricity than coal for the first time, while wind power almost caught up with coal.

Japan’s emissions also fell as output from restarted nuclear reactors increased.

But emissions in the rest of the world grew by close to 400 million tonnes in 2019, with almost 80% of the increase coming from countries in Asia where coal power continued to increase.

Across advanced economies, coal power declined by nearly 15% as a result of more renewables, gas and nuclear power.

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director said: “We now need to work hard to make sure that 2019 is remembered as a definitive peak in global emissions, not just another pause in growth.

“We have the energy technologies to do this, and we have to make use of them all.”

And he said: “This welcome halt in emissions growth is grounds for optimism that we can tackle the climate challenge this decade.

“It is evidence that clean energy transitions are under way – and it’s also a signal that we have the opportunity to meaningfully move the needle on emissions through more ambitious policies and investments.”

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