The International Energy Agency reported last month that the growth in global carbon emissions had stalled for the first time in their 40 year records, in the absence of major economic crisis. The figures remained at 32 gigatonnes in 2014, the same as 2013. While this is encouraging the IEA has warned that despite the news, this was “no time for complacency”.
“This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, “It provides much-needed momentum to negotiators preparing to forge a global climate deal in Paris in December: for the first time, greenhouse gas emissions are decoupling from economic growth.”
The stall is being attributed to changing patterns of energy use in China and other member countries of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), particularly the shift towards renewable energy generation; China is now the world’s largest investor in renewable energy. Full report details have not yet been released, however it is hoped that the results will aid in the signing of a new international climate change agreement in Paris in December. The current aim is to limit the rise in global surface temperatures to less than 2°C compared with pre-industrial levels.
The news came as the US pledged to address climate change by cutting its carbon emissions by 26-28% by 2025, in an offer to the EU before the Paris conference aforementioned. The pledge follows a similar statement of intent by the EU and other wealthy nations, before the deadline for offers set by the EU, not all countries have submitted on time however, some such as Canada missed the deadline.
The US announcement stated; “The target is fair and ambitious. The United States has already undertaken substantial policy action to reduce its emissions. Additional action to achieve the 2025 target represents a substantial acceleration of the current pace of greenhouse gas emission reductions. Achieving the 2025 target will require a further emission reduction of 9-11% beyond our 2020 target compared to the 2005 baseline and a substantial acceleration of the 2005-2020 annual pace of reduction, to 2.3-2.8 percent per year, or an approximate doubling.”
Despite the pledges made by various nations, analysts are sceptical, saying that current offers are not strong enough to hold global temperature rise to the maximum 2°C stipulated. Dr Jeremy Woods of Climate-KIC’s Global Calculator project at Imperial College London, said: “Over the last decade, the EU’s emissions have shrunk, the US’s have remained more-or-less stable but China’s have risen dramatically from just over 10% of global emissions in 2000 to just under 30% in 2013. The world has been going in the opposite direction to that needed to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.”