Slowdown in the increase of global CO2 emissions in 2012

Plane flying in front of big clouds  Actual global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 34.5 billion tonnes in 2012, which means a relative increase in 2012 compared to 2011 of only 1.1% - less than half of the average annual increase of 2.9% over the last decade. These are the main findings of the annual report ‘Trends in global CO2 emissions’, released today by the JRC and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL).

This is remarkable, as the global economy grew by 3.5% in 2012 compared to 2011. This development signals a shift towards less fossil-fuel intensive activities, more use of renewable energy and increased energy saving. Increases in fossil-fuel consumption in 2012 were 2.2% for natural gas (the United States is currently the world’s largest gas producer), 0.9% for oil products, and 0.6% for coal (China is still the world’s largest coal consumer) compared to 2011. In comparison to 2011 there were increases in coal consumption in Europe of 3% (mainly caused by Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany), which indicates that coal with relatively low prices (especially from cheap USA coal imports) backs up the intermittent use of renewable energy, also compensating the reduced share of nuclear energy. The share of the 'new' renewable energy sources (solar, wind and biofuel) increased with accelerating speed: it took 15 years from 1992 for the share to double from 0.5% to 1.1%, but only 6 more years to do so again, to 2.4% in 2012.
This might indicate that a further slowdown in the increase in global CO2 emissions is achievable if (a) China achieves its own target of a maximum level of energy consumption by 2015 and its shift to gas, with a natural gas share of 10% by 2020; (b) the United States continues to shift its energy mix towards more gas and renewable energy; and (c) European Union Member States agree on restoring the effectiveness of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) to further reduce actual emissions. EU ETS was launched in 2005 to combat climate change. It is a tool for reducing industrial greenhouse gas emissions and it covers more than 11,000 power stations and industrial plants in 31 countries, as well as airlines.

JRC's Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research

The Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) hosted by the JRC uses the latest scientific information and data from international statistics on energy production and consumption, industrial manufacturing, agricultural production, waste treatment/disposal and the burning of biomass, in order to model emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants for all countries of the world in a comparable and consistent manner. EDGAR is unique in its provision of historical emissions data for 20 years prior to 1990, the reference year for the Kyoto protocol.


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