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Global figures offer 'yet another boost' in climate change battle

Global figures offer 'yet another boost' in climate change battle

Global figures offer 'yet another boost' in climate change battle

Businesses that have been working hard to enhance their energy efficiency and reduce their impact on the environment will welcome new data showing progress in the fight to tackle global climate change.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) published preliminary data for 2015 showing that energy-related carbon dioxide output - the largest source of man-made greenhouse gas emissions - was flat for the second year in a row.

Meanwhile, there was a "surge" in renewable energy production.

One of the most encouraging trends highlighted in the report was a continuation of global economic growth despite the halt in carbon dioxide emissions, suggesting that more countries were finding ways to continue growing without harming the environment.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the world economy expanded by 3.4 per cent in 2014 and 3.1 per cent last year.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said: "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.

"Coming just a few months after the landmark COP21 agreement in Paris, this is yet another boost to the global fight against climate change."

Detailed figures showed that global CO2 output stood at 32.1 billion tonnes in 2015, largely the same as in 2013.

The IEA has been monitoring emissions for more than 40 years and this is only the fourth time that global CO2 levels have stayed the same or dropped from the previous year.

On the previous three occasions - in the early 1980s, 1992 and 2009 - the stalling carbon output was linked to economic weakness, but the latest figures come at a time of recovery.

One of the key factors in the recent trend has been the growth of sustainable energy, with renewables like wind and solar power accounting for about 90 per cent of new electricity generation in 2015.

Wind power alone accounted for more than half of new electricity production.

There was also positive news from China and the US, the two biggest global emitters, both of which registered a drop in energy-related CO2 last year.

China reduced its coal use for the second year in a row and consequently brought its emissions down by 1.5 per cent.

In the UK, the government has been coming under increasing pressure to take concerted action to boost the country's energy efficiency and tackle long-term climate risks.

The chancellor, George Osborne, last week delivered a Budget reportedly designed to "make Britain fit for the future", but Toby Roxburgh, economics adviser at WWF-UK, said it was a "missed opportunity for the environment and economy".

In an article for Business Green, Mr Roxburgh highlighted concerns including the government's ongoing support for fossil fuels.

"In the context of weak growth forecasts and growing international momentum to tackle climate change, the chancellor should have done far more to boost the low-carbon sector instead of backing fossil fuels," he said.

"The low-carbon sector already contributes £122 billion to the British economy and, with the right policy signals, could be a huge engine of sustainable future growth."

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of Thinkstock