Thursday, March 17, 2016

Surging Renewables Keep Global CO2 Flat as Economy Grows - by Joe Romm

Global energy-related CO2 emissions (Credit: IEA) Click to Enlarge.
The International Energy Agency has confirmed that global carbon dioxide emissions have decoupled from economic growth.  The IEA reports that for the second year in a row, the world economy has grown while energy-related CO2 emissions — the primary cause of climate change — remained flat, thanks to energy efficiency and a big surge in renewables.

This decoupling is “unprecedented” and “huge” according to IEA chief Fatih Birol.  The IEA explains that the only three previous times in the last four decades that emissions were flat or dropped (the early 1980s, 1992, and 2009) “were associated with global economic weakness.”

What happened?  The IEA says its “data suggest that electricity generated by renewables played a critical role, having accounted for around 90% percent of new electricity generation in 2015.” Yes, a whopping nine out of 10 new power plants in 2015 were renewable — and five out of 10 were wind.

The IEA also credits “improvements in efficiency.”  Efficiency has played a key role in decoupling both U.S. electricity sales and overall energy demand from U.S. economic growth, as I’ve discussed.  Many other major countries have fuel efficiency and electricity efficiency efforts comparable (or even superior) to ours.

Emissions reductions by two biggest emitters — the U.S. and China — played a major role, the IEA notes.  Our emissions fell 2 percent, and China’s 1.5 percent, “as coal use dropped for the second year in a row.”

Read more at Surging Renewables Keep Global CO2 Flat as Economy Grows

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