The head of the International Energy Agency hopes global carbon dioxide emissions have peaked after stabilizing global production in 2019.
Carbon emissions from energy fell in advanced economies, including the EU and the US, where the use of coal – the most polluting fossil fuel – fell by 15-25%. According to the IEA, total emissions from the energy sectors of advanced economies fell to levels “last seen in the late 1980s.”
Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency, has stated that sustained growth in wind and solar power, a large-scale shift from coal to natural gas, and increased use of nuclear power have all contributed to lower CO2 emissions even as developing countries in Asia continued to burn more coal.
According to the IEA, global CO2 emissions from energy use, which account for the largest share of greenhouse gases, remained unchanged in 2019 at 33 gigatons compared to the previous year, even as the global economy grew by almost 3 percent.
The new IEA numbers are a welcome surprise. Energy-related CO2 emissions rose in both 2017 and 2018, and earlier studies suggested this trend will continue, which has called into question efforts to significantly reduce emissions to mitigate climate change. Mr. Birol acknowledged that emissions must fall even more dramatically in order to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement’s, which aim to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees on average.
However, he also stated, that to stop their growth was an important first step.
“We have the energy technologies to do this, and we have to make use of them all” stated Mr. Birol.
«2019 is a year that gives me hope that the 2020s will be a decade of relief”.
Mr. Birol said the new numbers show that the world’s governments are capable of doing more. “We are making a big push in the power sector… but governments need to increase the focus on energy in transport and energy in industry”.