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Renewable energy leads to global carbon emissions decline in 2019

By Victor Gbonegun
17 February 2020   |   4:13 am
The global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions stopped growing in 2019 according to a new data released by International Energy Agency (IEA).

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The global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions stopped growing in 2019 according to a new data released by International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Executive Director of the agency Fatih Birol said after two years of growth, global emissions were unchanged at 33 gigatonnes in 2019 even as the world economy expanded by about 2.9 percent. This, according to expert was primarily due to declining emissions from electricity generation in advanced economies, and the expanding role of renewable sources especially wind and solar.

Significantly other factors that contributed include, milder weather in several countries, and slower economic growth in some of the emerging markets.

Dr Birol, 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. The IEA is building a grand coalition focused on reducing emission encompassing governments, companies, investors and everyone with a genuine commitment to tackling our climate challenge”.

The data also revealed that significant decrease in emissions in advanced economies in 2019 offset continued growth elsewhere.

Consequently, the United States recorded the largest emissions decline on a country basis, with a fall of 140 million tonnes, or 2.9 percent. US emissions are now down by almost one gigatonne from their peak in 2000. Emissions in the European Union fell by 160 million tonnes, or 5percent, in 2019 driven by reductions in the power sector.

The Natural gas produced more electricity than coal for the first time ever, meanwhile wind-powered electricity nearly caught up with coal-fired electricity.

Emissions in Japan fell by 45 million tonnes, or around 4percent, the fastest pace of decline since 2009, as output from recently restarted nuclear reactors increased while emissions in the rest of the world grew by close to 400 million tonnes in 2019, with almost 80 percent of the increase coming from countries in Asia where coal-fired power generation continued to rise.

Across 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 advanced economies declined by nearly 15percent as a result of growth in renewables, coal-to-gas switching, a rise in nuclear power and weaker electricity demand.

Birol 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 underway and it’s also a signal that we have the opportunity to meaningfully move the needle on emissions through more ambitious policies and investments.”

The IEA says it will publish a “World Energy Outlook Special Report” in June that will map out how to cut global energy-related carbon emissions by one-third by 2030 and put the world on track for longer-term climate goals.

United Nations climate scientists say that global greenhouse emissions particularly need to fall by 7.6percent to stop temperature rising to levels that will cause severe climate change in the coming decades.