CO2 emissions flat for third straight year as GDP grows

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CO2 emissions flat for third straight year as GDP grows

By far the main culprit in global warming, carbon dioxide emissions stood at 32.1 billion tonnes previous year, the IEA estimated.

The report, undertaken in partnership with the International Renewable Energy Agency, said the move to reduce global greenhouse gases could hold "significant consequences for the energy industry" if companies fail to adapt their portfolios in the wake of the Paris Agreement.

The German Government - set to receive G20 Presidency later this year - commissioned the first ever collaborative report between the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), to examine the economic costs and benefits of transitioning to a low-carbon future. "Market forces, technology cost reductions, and concerns about climate change and air pollution were the main forces behind this decoupling of emissions and economic growth", states IEA. 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.

"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", IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement. This is the lowest carbon emissions have been in the United States since 1992, while the economy has grown by an impressive 80 percent over this same period. "This is especially true in the USA, where abundant shale gas supplies have become a cheap power source".

Stricter emissions regulations, a decline in the use of coal, cheaper natural and the rise of clean energy have all helped keep global emissions flat since 2014.

IEA said the United States showed the greatest improvement, with carbon dioxide emissions falling 3%, or 160 million (metric) tonnes, while the country's economy grew by 1.6%.

Emissions fell by one percent in China a year ago, the IEA said, while the economy grew by 6.7 percent.

DNV GL, a global energy-sector consultancy, sees natural gas being an ideal partner for renewables because it can supply power grids with the baseload electricity that intermittent renewable sources can't.

The intergovernmental organisation said that this was the result of growing renewable power generation, switches from coal to natural gas, and improvements in energy efficiency. Today around the world, new renewable power plants are being built that will generate electricity for less cost than fossil-fuel power plants.

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