By Paul Homewood
h/t Dennis Ambler
[Note that this article was written in December 2019]
After increasing at the fastest rate for seven years in 2018, global CO2 emissions are set to rise much more slowly this year – but will, nevertheless, reach another record high.
Emissions from fossil fuel and industry (FF&I) are expected to reach 36.81bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) in 2019, up by only 0.24GtCO2 (0.6%) from 2018 levels, according to the latestestimates from the Global Carbon Project(GCP).
The data is being published in Earth System Science Data Discussions, Environmental Research Letters and Nature Climate Change to coincide with the UN’s COP25 climate summitin Madrid, Spain.
The growth of global emissions in 2019 was almost entirely due to China, which increased its CO2 output by 0.26GtCO2. The rest of the world actually reduced its emissions by -0.02GtCO2, thanks to falling coal use in the US and Europe, as well as much more modest increases in India and the rest of the world, compared to previous years.
The GCP researchers say that “a further rise in emissions in 2020 is likely” as global consumption of natural gas is “surging”, oil use continues to increase and, overall, energy demand rises.
Despite the rapid rise and falling costs of renewables in many parts of the world, the majority of increases in energy demand continue to be met by fossil fuels. For example, gas met around two-fifths of the increase in demand in 2018, against just a quarter coming from renewables.
Overall, human-caused CO2 emissions, including those from FF&I and land use, are projected to increase by 1.3% in 2019. This is driven by a 0.29GtCO2 (5%) increase in land-use emissions – including deforestation – which is the fastest rate in five years. While land use only represents around 14% of total 2019 emissions, it will contribute more than half the increase in emissions in 2019.
While more modest than in recent years, the increase in emissions in 2019 puts the worldeven further away from meeting its climate change goals under the Paris Agreement.
Zeke Hausfather, who wrote this piece, makes the same mistake as most of us do (me included!), in concentrating on the minutiae of small increases in emissions.
Some years the number is small, and sometimes bigger. But the real significance, for those interested in such matters, is the absolute level of emissions. Quite simply there is no sign at all of total global emissions falling substantially, never mind being eliminated totally.
Given that global carbon dioxide emissions are now 14% higher than when the abortive Copenhagen summit was held in 2009, and when we were told we had ten years to save the planet, the odd half a percent change up or down is utterly irrelevant.
And the reason is perfectly clear – the world needs fossil fuels, for the simple reason that nothing else can replace them.