Energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide have stabilised, for now

Feb 13, 2020

IS IT A peak, a stutter or just a brief pause? Time will tell. But whatever it is, on February 11th the International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental organisation which collects such data, announced that emissions of carbon dioxide in 2019 which were related to energy had remained the same (33.3bn tonnes) as the previous year’s.

Energy-related emissions, which include those produced by electricity generation, heating and transport, account for more than 70% of the world’s industrial CO2 pollution. The stall seems to have been caused by a decline in coal use, particularly in rich countries, combined with an increase in the use of renewable power.

As a result of this the CO2-intensity of electricity generation—a measure of how much of the gas is emitted per kilowatt-hour of juice produced—fell by nearly 6.5%, to 340 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour. It had already been falling, but this is three times the average for the past decade. Such declines more than offset the effect of increased electricity production. The average emission-intensity of power generation in 2019 was “lower than all but the most efficient gas-fired power plants”, according to the IEA.


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