- The globe emitted about 33 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from energy uses in 2019.
- The United States recorded the largest emissions decline on a country basis.
- U.S. emissions are now down by almost 1 gigaton from their peak in 2000.
Some rare good news from the climate change front.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide in 2019 were level with those of 2018, according to a report released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Overall, 33 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide were emitted worldwide from energy usage in 2019, even as the world economy expanded by nearly 3%. That was about the same level as in 2018.
The agency attributed the stoppage to “declining emissions from electricity generation in advanced economies, thanks to the expanding role of renewable sources (mainly wind and solar), fuel switching from coal to natural gas and higher nuclear power generation.”
The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas releases “greenhouse” gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. The emissions have caused the planet’s temperatures to rise to levels that cannot be explained by natural factors, scientists report.
In the past 20 years, the world’s temperature has risen about two-thirds of a degree Fahrenheit, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.
The United States recorded the largest emissions decline by country, a fall of 140 million tons, or 2.9%, according to the report. The nation’s electricity demand fell thanks to a milder summer and warmer winter than earlier years, the report said.
U.S. emissions are now down by almost 1 gigaton from their peak in 2000.
“It’s good news that energy-related emissions didn’t rise, or at least not much, last year,” the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a statement. “But we’re not even close to cutting carbon pollution at the pace necessary to address climate change.
“To reliably prevent global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels – hot enough to destroy the world’s coral reefs, among other serious dangers – the world needs to slash emissions by 25% this decade and reach zero by 2070, according to the United Nations climate panel,” MIT said.
IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in a statement: “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. … This welcome halt in emissions growth is grounds for optimism that we can tackle the climate challenge this decade.
“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,” Birol concluded.