28 April 2014, News Wires – Industrialised nations’ greenhouse gas emissions fell by 1.3% in 2012, led by a US decline to the lowest in almost two decades with a shift to natural gas from dirtier coal, official statistics show.
Emissions from more than 40 nations were 10% below 1990 levels in 2012, according to a Reuters compilation of national data submitted to the United Nations in recent days that are the main gauge of efforts to tackle global warming, the news wire reported.
US emissions fell 3.4% in 2012 to 6.5 billion tonnes, the lowest since 1994, the US Environmental Protection Agency said on 15 April.
The fall was linked to low natural gas prices, helped by a shale gas boom and a shift from coal, a mild winter and greater efficiency in transport.
Still, with emissions rising elsewhere, experts said the rate of decline was too slow to limit average world temperature rises to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, a ceiling set by almost 200 nations to avert droughts, heatwaves and rising seas.
In 2012 “the success story is the declining emissions in the United States,” said Glen Peters, of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo. “Europe is a mix with slow GDP growth offset by a shift to coal in some countries.”
Total emissions from industrialised nations fell to 17.3 billion tonnes in 2012 from 17.5 billion in 2011 and compared with 19.2 billion in 1990, the base year for the U.N.’s climate change convention.
In the European Union, emissions dipped 1.3% in 2012 to 4.5 billion tonnes and were 19.2% down from 1990 levels, the European Environment Agency said.
The overall decline in emissions by industrialised nations is not enough to offset a rise in world emissions, driven by emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa which are using more energy as their populations get richer.
The IPCC says that it is at least 95 percent probable that human activities, rather than natural variations in the climate, are the dominant cause of warming since the mid-20th century.
Even so, opinion polls show that many voters are doubtful.