World energy experts on Monday issued alarming results, saying that not only do global warming carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase, but that the world's growing energy cravings are fueling global warming. higher emissions than ever before.
According to the report of the International Energy Agency, the world's energy demand has grown by 2.3% over the past year, marking the fastest growth last ten years. To meet this demand, largely fueled by a booming economy, countries have turned to a range of sources, including renewables.
But nothing fills the void, like fossil fuels, which have helped satisfy nearly 70% of the skyrocketing electricity demand, according to the agency, which analyzes the trends in electricity consumption. On behalf of 30 member countries, including the United States.
In particular, a relatively young fleet of coal-fired power stations in Asia, which has a lifespan of several decades, has paved the way for a record coal-fired power plant – exceeding for the first time the 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide the agency said.
In Asia, "the average plants are only 12 years old, a few decades shorter than their average economic life of about 40 years," the agency said.
As a result, greenhouse gas emissions related to the use of energy – by far their main source – increased in 2018 to a record 33.1 billion tonnes.
Emissions grew by 1.7%, well above the average since 2010. Global emissions growth in 2018 alone was "equivalent to total international aviation emissions," the report said. # 39; s body.
Monday's report highlights disturbing truth about global collective efforts to tackle climate change: While renewable energies are growing rapidly, many countries – including the US and China – continue to turn to fossil fuels to meet the growing demand for energy.
"Very disturbing," said Michael Mehling, deputy director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on Monday's findings.
"All this reflects for me the fact that climate policies around the world, despite some limited progress, remain terribly inadequate," he said in an email.
"They are not even robust enough to offset the increase in emissions resulting from economic expansion, especially in developing countries, let alone to stimulate decarbonization at levels commensurate with the goals. of temperature stabilization to which we are committed in the Paris Agreement ".
Mehling asked if the Paris Climate Agreement – the 2015 global agreement in which countries pledged to reduce their carbon emissions – had the capacity to "clean the air." to oblige countries to keep their promises and intensify their actions in favor of the climate.
"This will require overcoming persistent obstacles that have prevented greater progress in the past," said Mehling.
Overcoming these obstacles is complicated, as the agency report clearly indicates.
China, for example, has satisfied a demand for increased energy last year with a new generation of renewable energy. But he relied a lot more on natural gas, coal and oil. In India, about half of the new demand has been satisfied in the same way by coal-fired plants.
In the United States, by contrast, coal is declining, but the bulk of the increase in energy demand in this country has nevertheless been fueled by the burning of natural gas rather than by renewable energies.
Natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal when burned, but it is still a fossil fuel that still causes significant emissions.
Certainly, the new report contains some good news, as the share of coal in renewables and natural gas has increased, with the share of coal in the whole of energy being reduced.
Yet, the fact that it continues to grow strongly contradicts what scientists have said about what is needed to combat global warming.
In a major report last year, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed that global emissions should be halved by the year 2030 to maintain a chance to contain global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
This would require extremely rapid annual reductions in emissions – but the world still records records.
And with regard to the use of coal, the same report has revealed that, to limit temperatures to 1.5 ° C, it should drop up to 78% in just over 10 years. Again, coal emissions continue to increase.
Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth System Science at Stanford University, said the substantial growth in wind and solar power detailed in Monday 's report was eclipsed by global dependence on solar power. fossil fuels.
"The growth of fossils remains higher than that of all renewable energies," said Jackson, adding that few countries met the commitments made under the Paris agreement on climate.
"What is discouraging is that emissions in the US and Europe are also increasing.Someone has to reduce its emissions significantly so that we can hope to meet the Paris commitments."
The new results launched earlier hoped that global emissions could stabilize and begin to decline. From 2014 to 2016, they decreased slightly and coal emissions, in particular, also decreased.
However, with a recovery in 2017 growth and record highs in 2018, there is no question of reducing emissions.
As a result, the optimism of the beginning of this decade has largely faded. International efforts to combat climate change have struggled to maintain momentum, and the US government has experienced a reversal of priorities.
"We have big problems," said Jackson about Monday's findings. "The climatic consequences are catastrophic, I do not use a word like that very often, but we are heading towards a catastrophe, and nobody seems to be able to slow things down."
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