Global CO2 emissions from power sector fell 2% in 2019: study

Demonstrators gather in front of the White House to protest President Donald Trump’s signing of an executive order rolling back rules on carbon emissions on Tuesday, the day before the US climate science hearing, which sparks fierce debate between lawmakers and scientists. Photo: IC

Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power sector fell by 2 percent last year, the biggest fall since at least 1990, owing to reduced coal usage in Europe and the United States, a study showed on Monday.

Coal-fired power generation fell by 3 percent globally, also the largest fall since 1990, research by independent climate think tank Ember showed. The drop in Europe was 24 percent, driven by a switch to renewables, while US coal-fired generation was down 16 percent because of more competitive gas.

Overall, the decline in coal use in 2019 and shift towards renewables was helped by factors such as cheap gas, nuclear plant restarts in Japan and South Korea and slowing electricity demand, the report said.

Coal generation needs to fall by 11 percent a year to keep within a warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The global decline of coal and power sector emissions is good news for the climate, but governments have to dramatically accelerate the electricity transition so that global coal generation collapses throughout the 2020s,” said Dave Jones, lead author of the report and electricity analyst at Ember.

“To switch from coal into gas is just swapping one fossil fuel for another,” he added.

Wind and solar power generation rose by 15 percent in 2019. That growth rate would need to be maintained every year to achieve climate goals under the Paris Agreement.

The report examined data covering 85 percent of the world’s electricity generation and used informed estimates for the remaining 15 percent.

In February the International Energy Agency said that global CO2 emissions from power production flattened in 2019 as growth of renewable energy and fuel switching from coal to natural gas led to lower emissions from advanced economies.

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