Global greenhouse emission drops to 32.1bn

*Greenhouse gas emissions.

*Greenhouse gas emissions.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

30 March 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The environmental threat of oil and gas production and utilisation may be gradually fizzling out as the International Energy Agency, IEA, has put the global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions at 32.1 billion.

In its latest report, the agency disclosed that global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) – the largest source of man-made greenhouse gas emissions – stayed flat for the second year in a row, according to analysis of preliminary data for 2015.

According to IEA Executive Director, Fatih Birol, “The new figures confirm last year’s surprising but welcome news: we now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupling from economic growth.”

“Coming just a few months after the landmark COP21 agreement in Paris, this is yet another boost to the global fight against climate change,” he added.

Birol explained that the latest figures indicated that global emissions of carbon dioxide stood at 32.1 billion tonnes in 2015, having remained essentially flat since 2013.

The IEA preliminary data suggest that electricity generated by renewables played a critical role, having accounted for around 90 per cent of new electricity generation in 2015; wind alone produced more than half of new electricity generation.

It noted that in parallel, the global economy continued to grow by more than three per cent, offering further evidence that the link between economic growth and emissions growth is weakening.

The agency disclosed that in the more than 40 years in which the IEA has been providing information on CO- 2emissions, there have been only four periods in which emissions stood still or fell compared to the previous year.

It maintained that three of those – the early 1980s, 1992 and 2009 – were associated with global economic weakness.

The agency noted that the recent stall in emissions comes amid economic expansion: according to the International Monetary Fund, global GDP grew by 3.4per cent in 2014 and 3.1per cent in 2015.
According to the agency, the two largest emitters, China and the United States, both registered a decline in energy-related CO2 in 2015.

The agency noted that in China, emissions declined by 1.5 per cent, as coal use dropped for the second year in a row. It maintained that the economic restructuring towards less energy-intensive industries and the government’s efforts to decarbonise electricity generation pushed coal use down.

It disclosed that in 2015, coal generated less than 70 per cent of Chinese electricity, ten percentage points less than four years ago (in 2011).

The agency maintained that over the same period lowcarbon sources jumped from 19per cent to 28 per cent, with hydro and wind accounting for most of the increase.

In the United States, it said, emissions declined by two per cent, as a large switch from coal to natural gas use in electricity generation took place.

IEA stressed that the decline observed in the two major emitters was offset by increasing emissions in most other Asian developing economies and the Middle East, and also a moderate increase in Europe.

It noted that more details on the data and analysis will be included in a World Energy Outlook special report on energy and air quality that will be released at the end of June.

The agency indicated that the report will go beyond CO2 emissions and will provide a first in-depth analysis of the role the energy sector plays in air pollution, a crucial policy issue that today results in seven million premature deaths a year.

Specifically, it disclosed that the report will provide the outlook for emissions and their impact on health, and provide policy makers with strategies to mitigate energy-related air pollution in the short and long term.

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