Linus Unah – Fourth Estate Contributor
Paris, France (4E) – Global energy-related emissions remained flat in 2016 for the third consecutive year even as the global economy grew, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Friday.
The EIA noted that the trend signaled a continuing decoupling of emissions and economic activity.
The influential Paris-based group cited growing use of renewables, natural gas and improvements in energy efficiency as the reasons for stalling emissions growth last year.
According to the IEA, global emissions from the energy sector stood at 32.1 gigatonnes last year, same as in 2014 and 2015, while the global economy grew 3.1 percent.
“These three years of flat emissions in a growing global economy signal an emerging trend and that is certainly a cause for optimism, even if it is too soon to say that global emissions have definitely peaked,” Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director, said in a statement.
“They are also a sign that market dynamics and technological improvements matter. This is especially true in the United States, where abundant shale gas supplies have become a cheap power source.”
Carbon dioxide emissions declined in the U.S. and China, the world’s two-largest energy users and emitters, and remained stable in Europe.
This was enough to offsett increases in most of the rest of the world, the group said.
In the U.S., carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 3 percent or 160 million tonnes, representing the biggest drop in the globe. The IEA said the U.S. economy grew by 1.6 percent.
“The decline was driven by a surge in shale gas supplies and more attractive renewable power that displaced coal,” the IEA said in a news release. “Emissions in the United States last year were at their lowest level since 1992, a period during which the economy grew by 80 percent.”
In 2016, renewables supplied more than half the global electricity demand growth, with hydro accounting for half of that share.
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