Carbon Slowdown? The “decoupling of emissions from economic growth”
October 31, 2013
Global emissions of carbon dioxide may be showing the first signs of a “permanent slowdown” in the rate of increase.
According to a new report, emissions in 2012 increased at less than half the average over the past decade.
Key factors included the shift to shale gas for energy in the US while China increased its use of hydropower by 23%.
However the use of cheap coal continues to be an issue, with UK consumption up by almost a quarter.
The report on trends in global emissions has been produced annually by the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.
It finds that emissions of carbon dioxide reached a new record in 2012 of 34.5bn tonnes.
But the rate of increase in CO2 was 1.4%, despite the global economy growing by 3.5%.
Breaking the link
This decoupling of emissions from economic growth is said to be down to the use of less fossil fuels, more renewable energy and increased energy savings.
The main emitters, accounting for 55% of the global total, were China, the US and the European Union. All three saw changes that were described as “remarkable” by the report’s authors.
Emissions from China increased by 3% but this was a significant slowdown compared to annual increases of around 10% over the past decade.
There were two important factors in reducing China’s CO2. The first was the ending of a large economic stimulus package. As a result electricity and energy prices increased at half the rate of GDP.
“They want to grow economically less fast,” one of the authors, Dr Greet Maenhout, told BBC News.