Energy

How Come CO2 Emissions Flat-Lined Amid Record Fossil Fuel Use?

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter

While 2015 saw record fossil fuel use, it also saw global CO2 emissions stagnate.

Last year’s ‘stagnation’, which really means growth was minimal not non-existent, was the lowest since the recession slowed demand in 2009, according to the annual BP’s annual report, published Wednesday.

Even though emissions did increase from 2014 to 2015, it was only a small increase of .5%, which still defies predictions which forecasted a .6% decline for 2015. Last year was also the second straight year where increases were smaller than the previous year, which shows a promising, if not short trend.

One reason for the stagnation of CO2 levels was the major decrease in coal use globally, lead by China’s decreased use of coal in favor of energy from hydropower, nuclear and renewables. China, with its population of more than 1 billion people, uses about half of the world’s coal.

Another factor in the global decline of coal was here in the U.S., where shale gas has been replacing the struggling coal industry.

While coal use is on the decline globally, global oil use was up by 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd). The U.S. also saw record high oil production in 2015, leading the way with 12.7 million bpd, while Saudi Arabia followed behind with 12 million bpd.

As more countries enact policies like the Carbon Floor Pricing, which imposes an ever increasing tax on fossil fuel industries in hopes of phasing them out entirely, and trend towards renewable energies, this stagnation could be the harbinger of good news as it relates to global CO2 emissions.

“There are good reasons for thinking that some of this (CO2) slowdown reflects structural forces (pushing for low carbon power) that are likely to persist and grow in importance,” BP’s chief economist Spencer Dale told The Guardian.

Some experts don’t see the same picture though. “This break is unlikely to be the peak in global emissions, and that is because energy needs of growing economies rely still primarily on coal and emission decreases in some industrialised countries are still modest at best.” Professor Corrine Le Quéré said at a press conference for the COP21 climate convention in Paris.

Whether global CO2 emissions have peaked or not, we have seen a gradual decline in emissions which can only be a good thing.

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