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Carbon Emissions are Falling as Electricity Producers are Moving Away From Coal

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Last year witnessed the greatest drop in carbon emissions in almost three decades. Recent figures have reported a 2% drop in emissions which is been attributed to significant cuts in the use of coal-fired power plants to generate electricity in the US and the EU.

Milder Winters Skew Results?


Despite China’s growing use of coal plants, the global generation of power from this fossil-fueled process reduced by 3% in 2019. This drop in coal use is being attributed to efforts being made in the EU and the US who have cut coal-generated power by half since 2007, significantly dropping their use by 25% and 16%, respectively, over the last year.


However, experts warn that these figures are unlikely to represent the beginning of a significant future trend in reducing coal-generated power. The statistics were generated by a report from climate think tank Ember, who, in their analysis, cautioned that one-off factors had led to a reduction in overall energy use last year, such as milder winters resulting in reduced energy requirements to warm homes and buildings.


While governments worldwide are making the switch from coal-powered energy to renewable-powered a priority, this conversion is not happening at rates fast enough to address climate change.


An Urgency to Accelerate the Transition from Fossil Fuels to Renewables


The report’s lead author, Dave Jones, strongly advised that in order to see coal-generated power wiped out over the next decade, governments need to accelerate the transition from fossil-fueled energy sources towards renewables. The rapid conversion to using wind and solar energy sources will be the key factor in reducing the huge level of emissions associated with the energy sector, which is accelerating the effects of climate change.


China poses a huge threat to the progress being made to reduce coal-generated power across other global locations as it rapidly increases its reliance on coal power. It is imperative that all the world’s regions commit to reducing their use of coal, and other fossil fuels, to make a significant reduction in carbon emissions that are required to reduce the impact of climate change.


A Struggle to Meet the Paris Climate Goals


Statistics have shown that the EU is the global region that shows the most accelerated reduction in coal use in favor of renewable alternatives such as wind and solar power. The US, on the other hand, while it has reduced its use of coal, it has replaced it with another fossil fuel in the form of gas.


Global use of renewables is rising, with wind and solar power reporting a 15% increase in use in 2019, accounting for 8% of the energy generated worldwide. The EU, in particular, is fueling this switch from fossil fuels to renewables, with around 18% of the electricity generated in this region being from wind and solar in 2019. The US falls behind this, with 11% of its electricity coming from renewable sources. Other global regions, such as China and India, generate less of their energy from renewables, with 8% and 9% of their total energy, respectively, in 2019 being generated from these sources.


The world needs to observe a compound growth rate for wind and solar energy or 15% each year in order to meet the Paris climate goals. This will not happen unless strict regulations and goals are set and observed by individual countries and regions.


Given that recent evidence has uncovered that 38 out of 75 of the largest asset managers around the world are postponing making significant steps to address environmental issues such as climate change. These results highlight the fact that currently, not enough is being done to tackle climate change, which may realistically lead to the Paris climate goals not being met.

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Sarah Moore

Written by

Sarah Moore

After studying Psychology and then Neuroscience, Sarah quickly found her enjoyment for researching and writing research papers; turning to a passion to connect ideas with people through writing.


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