The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that global carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector have not increased for the third year in a row.
Scientists say that this is due to the shift from coal to renewable energy sources. This shift also accounts for the energy sector's growth. Even as the emissions plateaued, the global economy grew by 3.1%.
The energy sector produced 32.1 billion tonnes of emissions last year—the same amount as the two preceding years. According to data from the IEA, countries cutting down on emissions are benefiting a lot from renewable energy.
In the US, carbon dioxide emissions fell 3% in the past year. Shale gas supplies and renewable energy helped the US economy grow 1.6%. China cut down their emissions by 1% due to increasing demand for renewable energy, while their economy rose close to 7%. Meanwhile, emissions in Europe were stable, though coal consumption dropped 10%. In the UK, wind energy plants produced more energy than coal plants.
These reductions helped offset increases in emissions in the rest of the world. Researchers say that government policies on the reduction of air pollution helped the decrease in carbon dioxide output.
The demand for renewable energy may edge out coal even more and thus cut emissions down further. It's important to note at this point that shifting from coal to renewable energy sources is actually doable. In fact, it can fuel the improvement of the economy as well as cut down on emissions.
While there's cause for optimism, the IEA says that these reductions are still not enough to meet global targets. There was a global agreement to limit global temperature increases to 2C above pre-industrial levels. This temperature limit is considered to be the line that the world should not cross. Otherwise, climate change will reach truly dangerous levels.
Recently, scientists reported that climate change and global warming caused a record amount of sea ice loss in the Arctic. This loss of sea ice contributed to the thick, lingering layers of smog that descended upon eastern China. Climate change and global warming caused massive bleaching events in the Great Barrier Reef as well. In all of these instances, scientists stressed that global action on reducing emissions is important in mitigating theffects of climate change.
According to the IEA, it's too soon to say if this is the peak of global carbon dioxide emissions. However, this is still good news, as there may be hope for the planet yet.
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