Carbon emissions stopped growing in 2015 for the first time in 10 years as the world turned its back on coal and embraced energy efficiency and renewable power with increased vigour, according to a new set of statistics.
China led the way in driving down emissions but the latest figures from oil company BP come with a warning that the progress may not last.
With the exception of a drop in global emissions around the time of the 2009 financial crisis, which heavily depressed overall business activity, the BP figure of 0.1% growth in CO2 is the lowest for 25 years.
Wind power capacity grew by 17.4% and solar by 32.6% last year with China overtaking Germany and the US as the largest generator of solar. America’s overall renewable energy capacity increased by 19.7%, Germany’s by 10.9% and Britain’s by 4.8%.
“There are good reasons for thinking that some of this (CO2) slowdown reflects structural forces (pushing for low carbon power) that are likely to persist and grow in importance,” said Spencer Dale, BP’s chief economist.
“But some probably reflects cyclical factors, particularly the contraction of China’s most energy-intensive sectors, which are unlikely to keep being repeated and may well unwind in future years,” he added.
The pledges and determination shown by world governments at the Paris climate change talks in Paris meant there would likely be “further policies aimed at shifting the fuel-mix towards cleaner, lower-carbon fuels, with renewable energy, along with natural gas, the main beneficiary,” said Dale.
The International Energy Agency reported flat CO2 emissions in 2014 and 2015.
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