Energy

Al Gore Cherry-Picks Data To Paint A Favorable Picture Of Paris Accord Progress

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Former Vice President Al Gore is using recently reported green energy data to paint a rosy picture of the progress countries are making towards fulfilling their Paris climate accord commitments.

Gore cited data that wind turbines and solar panels made up more than half the electricity capacity additions in the U.S., China, Europe and India in 2017. Most of the world’s greenhouse gas emission growth is expected to come from India and China.

While not untrue, Gore is obscuring the fact that China and India still get the vast majority of their energy from fossil fuels. Both countries also saw their emissions rise in 2017, despite the large percentage of new electricity additions that came from green energy sources.

Citing a Rhodium Group report, Gore said wind and solar made up 55 percent of China’s new electricity capacity additions. China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter.

However, “clean energy” makes up around 10 percent of Chinese power consumption, but that includes nuclear and hydroelectric power. More than 60 percent of China’s electricity came from coal.

China’s communist government does seem to be taking some moves to clamp down on pollution, but the country is far from decarbonizing.

China also saw its emissions grow 3.5 percent in 2017, according to the Global Carbon Project. China’s emissions growth was largely responsible for a 2 percent rise in global emissions.

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The Global Carbon Project does note the “2017 growth may result from economic stimulus from the Chinese government, and may not continue in the years ahead,” but “an actual decline in global emissions might still be beyond our immediate reach, especially given projections for stronger economic growth in 2018.”

It’s a similar story for India. Gore touted the fact that 64 percent of India’s new electricity capacity came from wind and solar.

But again, coal makes up 75 percent of India’s installed electricity capacity. India’s government says renewable energy sources, other than nuclear and hydro, make up around 13 percent of installed capacity.

India’s largest coal company also projects a 50 to 120 percent growth in coal consumption by 2030. Green energy additions would make the lower end more likely, but regardless, coal use is likely to grow a significant amount.

In the end, what Gore fails to point out is the world needs to reduce fossil fuel consumption 90 percent by 2050 to meet the goals of the Paris accord, based on UN estimates. University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke, Jr. recently pointed out how massive a task that would be.

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