Feb 11, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Global CO2 emissions were flat in 2019

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Reproduced from IEA; Chart: Axios Visuals

An IEA analysis released Monday found that energy-related CO2 emissions were flat last year at 33.3 gigatonnes.

Why it matters: Scientific analyses show that steep cuts — not just a plateau — are needed to meet the temperature goals of the Paris climate agreement.

The big picture: The finding came despite "widespread expectations of another increase" following growth in 2017 and 2018, IEA said.

  • It is roughly consistent with separate analysis from a research consortium called the Global Carbon Project (which also looks at cement industry emissions).
  • They estimated in December that energy-related emissions growth slowed last year to 0.6%. (One of that report's authors has a very helpful Twitter thread this morning.)

What they're saying: In a statement, IEA boss Fatih Birol said, "We now need to work hard to make sure that 2019 is remembered as a definitive peak in global emissions, not just another pause in growth."

  • "We have the energy technologies to do this, and we have to make use of them all," Birol added, noting IEA is seeking to build a "grand coalition" to boost global focus on emissions cuts.

Where it stands: IEA, explaining why overall emissions were flat, cited a "sharp decline" in CO2 from the power sector in advanced economies as renewables, gas and higher nuclear output shove coal aside.

  • "Global CO2 emissions from coal use declined by almost 200 million tonnes (Mt), or 1.3%, from 2018 levels, offsetting increases in emissions from oil and natural gas," they note.
  • However, emissions outside of the advanced economies kept growing, with most of the increase occurring in Asia as coal use there keeps rising.

Go deeper: Energy emissions stall as rich nations kick their coal habit (Bloomberg)

Go deeper

Dominion joins power giants' net-zero carbon emissions push

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/picture alliance via Getty Images

The huge utility Dominion Energy vowed Tuesday to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Why it matters: Virginia-headquartered Dominion has ranked among the country's 10 largest power generators and operates in 18 states.

BP vows to "fundamentally" change with net-zero emissions target

Photo: Lance King/Getty Images

BP said Wednesday that it is reorienting its business with new climate targets — including first-time emissions commitments for its products' use in the economy — and a new team to help countries, cities and other companies cut carbon.

Why it matters: It's the latest sign of how multinational oil-and-gas giants — especially European-headquartered players — are expanding climate pledges under intense pressure from activists and investors.

BP's climate move could mean new pressure on Exxon and Chevron

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios 

BP's new emissions pledge could create more pressure on U.S.-based giants Exxon and Chevron.

Why it matters: European oil behemoths have been more active on climate than their U.S. counterparts.