Natural gas drives record Carbon dioxide emissions in 2019

25 2015 steam billows from cooling towers of a power plant operating for the city's power and heating in Beijing

25 2015 steam billows from cooling towers of a power plant operating for the city's power and heating in Beijing

Though the rate of that growth has slowed-last year emissions grew at a rate of 2.1% while this year they are projected to grow 0.6%-it's still a positive growth rate, notes Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth Sciences at Stanford University and chair of the Global Carbon Project, which just released a new report on thee numbers.

The warning comes as envoys from almost 200 countries gather this week for United Nations-organized climate talks aimed at implementing the 2015 Paris agreement to limit emissions from fossil fuels and as a global protest movement calling for tougher action on climate change gathers momentum.

According to the study, concentrations of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continue to grow - projected to reach 410 parts per million averaged over the year.

The large global research team behind the annual budget calculations has called on decision-makers at COP25 to push for policies that will see the rapid phase-out of all fossil fuels and ensure urgent and large-scale deployment of renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies. Weaker economic growth globally was also a factor, the researchers found.

While coal remains the world's main source of fossil fuel Carbon dioxide emissions (roughly 40 per cent), there has been no significant growth in emissions since 2012.

A drop in coal use has helped to slow the growth of global carbon dioxide emissions. Emissions in 2019 are expected to decline in both the European Union and United States by 1.7%, as India's emissions are expected to rise 1.8% (notably lower than the past five-year growth rate of 5.1%), China's are expected to rise 2.6% and emissions in the rest of the world are expected to rise 0.5%. With a weakening economy, growth in India's generation of electricity has slowed from 6 per cent per year to under 1 per cent in 2019, despite electrification of villages adding to potential demand.

The rise is due to continuing strong growth in the utilization of oil and gas.

The Global Carbon Project, formed in 2001, is an worldwide organization of scientists that tracks carbon emissions from the ocean, land, energy, and industry.

Indian emissions are projected to rise by 1.8 percent in 2019, which is considerable lower that the 8 percent growth in 2018.

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"The science is clear, Carbon dioxide emissions need to decrease to net zero globally to stop further significant warming of the planet".

It said a global peak in coal use is linked to the future use of coal in China, which in turn depends on the kind of structural changes, energy and climate policy the communist country draws up.

"Compared to coal, natural gas is a cleaner fossil fuel, but unabated natural gas merely cooks the planet more slowly than coal", said Peters, calling for a quick phase-out on the heels of coal to meet ambitious climate goals.

She said there was a delay in the sense of urgency in taking action. In the US, an abundant supply of cheap natural gas is helping accelerate the transition away from the dirtiest fuel.

The Irish government has come under increasing pressure over its decision to continue issuing licences for gas exploration and its support for proposed gas terminal projects in countries Kerry and Cork that critics argue will see Ireland become a hub for fracked gas imports from the US.

The study said this increase is partly due to elevated fire activity in the Amazon, in line with data from the Brazilian Space Agency showing that deforestation in the Brazilian part of the Amazon has steadily increased since 2008, reaching its highest level in 2019.

Energy use overall continues to rise, and the carbon intensity of that energy production is still high.
A further 22 per cent is coming from industry, such as metal production, chemicals, and manufacturing. "Only then will Carbon dioxide emissions peak and, finally, begin to decline".

Niall is the Editor of The Green News.

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