The International Energy Agency (IEA) has reported falling emissions for second year running as the global renewable energy rollout starts to take effect.
The preliminary data released today by the IEA adds to the growing volume of evidence to suggest economic growth has decoupled from greenhouse gas emission levels as carbon emissions stayed flat for the second year in a row in 2015, despite continued growth in the global economy.
Reuters Newsagency reports the energy sector is the largest source of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and traditionally its emissions have only fallen or stayed flat during economic downturns.
Global energy CO2 emissions were almost unchanged at 32.1 billion tonnes last year, the IEA data showed, while the global economy grew by more than three per cent.
“The new figures confirm last year’s surprising but welcome news: we now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupling from economic growth,” IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol said in a statement.
The halt in energy emissions growth came largely on the back of a surge in renewable power production which accounted for around 90 per cent of all new generation capacity in 2015, the report said.
Last December more than 190 countries agreed in Paris to a global climate pact designed to curb the rise in temperatures to “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a mark scientists fear could be a tipping point for the climate.
In China emissions fell by 1.5 per cent on the back of falling coal use and rising levels of hydroelectricity and wind power, while in the US emissions dropped by two per cent as the electricity industry switched from coal to natural gas generation, the IEA said.
The IEA has been collating energy emissions data for more than 40 years and said during this time there have previously only been four periods where emissions fell or were flat and three of were associated with economic weakness.
More detailed analysis would be provided in the IEA’s World Energy Outlook special report on energy and air quality released at the end of June, it said.