The International Energy Agency (IEA), a renowned international organization focusing on the global energy transition released new data demonstrating that in 2019, despite widespread expectations, global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions remained unchanged compared to 2018. CO2 emission-levels are now at levels not seen since the 1980s, when electricity demand was one-third lower.
In 2019, CO2 emissions flattened at around 33 Gt, following two years of increase. This is primarily because advanced economies were able to decrease CO2 emissions from 11.7 Gt in 2018 to 11.3 Gt CO2 in 2019, with the power sector responsible for 85% of the drop. Other influences include milder weather and slower economic growth in some emerging markets.
The United States saw the largest decline on a country basis with 2.9%. The European Union, including the United Kingdom, managed to decrease CO2 emissions by 5%. The power sector drove the trend, with a decline of 12%, resulting from increasing renewables and a 25% drop in the output of coal-fired power plants.
The largest increase of CO2 emissions came from Asia taking almost 80% of the share, mainly from an increased use of coal.
“We now need to work hard to make sure that 2019 is remembered as a definitive peak in global emissions, not just another pause in growth,” said Dr. Fatih Birol, IEA’s Executive Director. “We have the energy technologies to do this, and we have to make use of them all. The IEA is building a grand coalition focused on reducing emissions – encompassing governments, companies, investors and everyone with a genuine commitment to tackling our climate challenge.”
“This welcome halt in emissions growth is grounds for optimism that we can tackle the climate challenge this decade,” said Dr. Birol. “It is evidence that clean energy transitions are underway – and it’s also a signal that we have the opportunity to meaningfully move the needle on emissions through more ambitious policies and investments.”