Nav: Home

CO2 emissions in developed economies fall due to decreasing fossil fuel and energy use

February 25, 2019

Efforts to cut emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and tackle climate change in developed economies are beginning to pay off according to research led by the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The study suggests that policies supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency are helping to reduce emissions in 18 developed economies. The group of countries represents 28 per cent of global emissions, and includes the UK, US, France and Germany.

The research team analysed the reasons behind changes in CO2 emissions in countries where emissions declined significantly between 2005 and 2015. The findings, published in Nature Climate Change, show that the fall in CO2 emissions was mainly due to renewable energy replacing fossil fuels and to decreasing energy use.

However, the decrease in energy use was partly explained by lower economic growth reducing the demand for energy following the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.

Significantly, countries where CO2 emissions decreased the most were those with the largest number of energy and climate policies in place.

The researchers compared countries with declining emissions with countries where emissions increased. They found that policies encouraging energy efficiency were linked to cuts in emissions across all countries.

They also found that policies that encouraged renewable energy were linked to cuts in emissions, but mostly in developed economies with decreasing emissions only, not elsewhere.

The data suggests that efforts to reduce emissions are underway in many countries, but these efforts need to be expanded and enhanced to limit climate change to well below 2 °C of warming, in line with the Paris Agreement.

The authors argue that "untangling" the reasons underlying recent changes in emissions is critical to guide efforts to tackle climate change.

Lead researcher Prof Corinne Le Quéré, of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA, said: "Our findings suggest that polices to tackle climate change are helping to decrease emissions in many countries. This is good news, but this is just the start. There is a long way to go to cut global emissions down to near zero, which is what is needed to stop climate change. Deploying renewable energy worldwide is a good step but by itself it is not enough, fossil fuels also have to be phased out."

Dr Charlie Wilson, also from UEA, said: "New scientific research on climate change tends to ring the alarm bells ever more loudly. Our findings add a thin sliver of hope. It is possible for countries to peak and then decline their emissions year in year out.

"Eighteen countries so far have shown us how concerted policy ambition and action on energy efficiency, renewables, and climate targets can work. Now we must make sure these early precedents become the rule not the exception. This is a huge global challenge."

Global CO2 emissions would need to decrease by about a quarter by 2030 to limit climate change well below 2 °C, and to decrease by half to stay below 1.5 °C. Global CO2 emissions increased by 2.2 per cent per year on average between 2005 and 2015.

Co-author Dr Glen Peters, of the CICERO Center for International Climate Research in Oslo, said: "Global carbon dioxide emissions rose in 2017 and 2018, suggesting that the rapid rollout of renewable energy has so far not been sufficient to arrest the growth in fossil fuel use.

"Energy and climate policy has been successful at supporting renewables and energy efficiency, but to realise meaningful emission reductions supporting policies are needed to penalise the emission of carbon dioxide."
-end-
'Drivers of declining CO2 emissions in 18 developed economies', Corinne Le Quéré, Jan Ivar Korsbakken, Charlie Wilson, Jale Tosun, Robbie Andrew,Robert J. Andres, Josep G Canadell, Andrew Jordan, Glen P Peters and Detlef van Vuuren, is published in Nature Climate Change.

University of East Anglia

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.