Renewed coal use in China, slowing energy efficiency, and strong economic growth are behind a 1.6% increase in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 that could put the goals of the Paris Agreement at risk, one of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies asserted in a statement last week.
“At first blush, from an energy transition perspective, these numbers potentially look a bit disappointing,” said Spencer Dale, chief economist at BP. “It suggests to me we are not on a path to the Paris climate goals.”
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At the same time, Dale told The Guardian that some backsliding was inevitable after the dramatic growth in green energy in 2014-16, led largely by short-term transition targets in China.
“I am more worried by the lack of progress in the power sector over the past 20 years than by the pickup in carbon emissions last year,” he said.
While global oil demand grew 1.8% last year, Dale said prices as high as US$80 per barrel are beginning to put a crimp on further growth. “If we saw oil prices maintain at these levels, that would eat into oil demand,” he said. While waiting for that to happen, The Guardian notes, BP saw its profits rise 71% in the first three months of 2018, driven by high oil prices.