Despite major advances in clean energy, the world’s carbon emissions reached an all-time high in 2012. Overall, emissions grew 1.4 percent, reaching 31.6 gigatons a year. The good news is that the US reduced emissions – but the bad news is that growing China produced the biggest increase.
US emissions were reduced after the country moved away from coal power and towards energy sources like natural gas and renewables. In fact, the US has reduced emissions to the levels that they were in the 1990s. China, on the other hand, had the largest increase at 300 megatons, but it is worth noting that this is one of the nation’s lowest increases in the past decade. Japan also increased by 70 megatons, while Europe decreased by 50 megatons.
According to the report from the IEA, we are not on track to keep global temperature rise below a crucial 2 degree increase. In fact, at the current rate, temperatures could increase 3.6 to 5.3 degrees. “Climate change has quite frankly slipped to the back burner of policy priorities. But the problem is not going away – quite the opposite,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.
The energy sector accounts for two-thirds of global greenhouse emissions, so the IEA has made a few recommendations to address industry emissions, like reducing the number of new coal-fired plants and phasing out fossil fuel subsides.