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20 March 2017, 08:07 | Terri Saunders
Gas first-ever gets ahead of coal as fuel for US power plants
By far the main culprit in global warming, carbon dioxide emissions stood at 32.1 billion tonnes past year, the IEA estimated.
Global energy-related carbon emissions can be reduced by 70% by 2050, generating $10trn a year in benefits, if countries ramp-up national commitments to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, a new report has found.
The International Energy Agency has confirmed that global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions remained flat for the third straight year in 2016, even as the global economy grew, confirming the decoupling of economic growth and energy demand. This is obviously a good thing, but if we are to tackle global warming, the IEA warns, simply stopping the growth of emissions is not enough to limit climate change to 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. Natural gas production is also increasing, helping to mitigate any emissions growth in numerous western countries looking to natural gas.
"These three years of flat emissions in a growing global economy signal an emerging trend and that is certainly a cause for optimism, even if it is too soon to say that global emissions have definitely peaked", says Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director. "They are also a sign that market dynamics and technological improvements matter". The IRENA report suggests that more jobs will be created than lost with a switch over to renewables and also differs from the IEA report on the extent to which fossil fuels would continue to be used, especially natural gas.
They note that in the U.S., the economy grew past year by 1.6 percent, while its carbon emissions dropped by 3 percent. IEA states that the world's nuclear net capacity is the highest it has been since 1993, with new reactors entering the power grid in China, the United States, South Korea, India, Russia and Pakistan.
United States emissions are at their lowest level since 1992, while the economy has grown 80 per cent since that time.
Renewables supplied more than half of the global electricity demand growth past year, with hydropower accounting for 50% of this, while coal demand fell worldwide. It now needs to be maintained if we are ever going to deal with climate change. Both agencies, the IEA and IRENA, were asked to prepare reports outlining scenarios that would keep global average temperature increases below 2.0 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), compared with preindustrial times in advance of the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue meeting being held in Berlin, Germany March 19-23, 2017.
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