Good news: after three years of growth, global carbon dioxide emissions from energy stood still in 2019.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report yesterday highlighting the halt in global CO2 emissions growth, saying it was all thanks to countries shifting away from coal and towards renewable energy and natural gas.

While carbon emissions still sat at 33.3 giga tonnes (billion tonnes) and it was still a record high, some big emitters had successfully cut back their CO2 output.

For example, the US reduced emissions by 2.9 per cent and the EU reduced it by 5 per cent. In America’s case, coal power dropped by 15 per cent and it is now emitting 1 billion tonnes less than in 2000.

Meanwhile, Japan cut emissions by 4 per cent and this was the fastest pace of decline since 2009.

And although emissions rose in China, the output was tempered by slower growth and higher output of alternative energy sources.

Also, natural gas produced more energy than coal for the first time ever. And while wind power still lagged coal, it has nearly caught up.

This reduction in emissions also happened despite the global economy expanding 2.9 per cent last year.


‘Moving the needle on emissions’

The IEA was happy with the figures and hoped momentum would not only continue but turn to a decline.

“This welcome halt in emissions growth is grounds for optimism that we can tackle the climate challenge this decade,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said.

“It is evidence that clean energy transitions are underway, and it’s also a signal that we have the opportunity to meaningfully move the needle on emissions through more ambitious policies and investments.

“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.”