Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions remained flat in 2015 for the second year in a row, despite continuing growth in the global economy, and a release this week by the International Energy Agency attributes much of the result to growing use of renewable electricity.
“The new figures confirm last year’s surprising but welcome news: we now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupling from economic growth,” said Executive Director Fatih Birol. “Coming just a few months after the landmark COP21 agreement in Paris, this is yet another boost to the global fight against climate change.”
Global CO2 emissions “stood at 32.1 billion tonnes in 2015, having remained essentially flat since 2013,” the agency reports. “The IEA preliminary data suggest that electricity generated by renewables played a critical role, having accounted for around 90% of new electricity generation in 2015.” Wind accounted for more than half of new generation.
Meanwhile, the global economy grew by more than 3%, “offering further evidence that the link between economic growth and emissions growth is weakening,” the IEA states.
The study found that CO2 reductions in China and the United States, the world’s two largest emitters, were offset by increases in most other Asian developing countries and the Middle East, as well as moderate growth in Europe.