Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Global CO2 Emissions Flat in 2019

This is surprising to me, at least: the IEA says global CO2 emissions were flat in 2019, compared to 2018 -- "about" 33 billion tonnes.

No word on emissions due to land use changes. Those data usually come out much later, and not as systematically. But they never contain large changes.
The IEA said that emissions from coal -- the most polluting fossil fuel -- fell nearly 200 million tonnes, around 1.3 percent from 2018 levels. This was largely offset by increases in emissions from oil and natural gas, however.
This when 2019 global economic growth was +2.9%. (I'm surprised anyone can figure this out so quickly; like the US GDP, it will surely be subject to revisions, though for the US those aren't usually more than a few tenths of a percentage point. So maybe.)

Here are some thoughts from the Chief Economist of the IEA.

That the decrease is from coal is important -- it means less traditional pollutants from burning coal, which is what really kills people. I suspect some paper by Drew Shindell would tell us how many statistical lives have been saved.

US emissions are said to be 2.9% less than 2018. (Now watch Trump take credit for that.)
The International Energy Agency (IEA) found that the U.S. decline was the largest, at 140 million tonnes, of any country. It also noted that since 2000, U.S. emissions have decreased nearly one gigatonne.

"A 15% reduction in the use of coal for power generation underpinned the decline in overall US emissions in 2019," the report said.
This doesn't seem unbelievable to me. As of October 2019, the 12 month moving average in US CO2 emissions was down 1.9%. Given that, and the weather since, I think it would be fairly easy to model the number for the whole of 2019.

As of October, US CO2 2019 year-to-date was down 2.5% from 2018 YTD. Again, not too difficult to extrapolate that if that's your job.

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