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Globe Tries to Get its Arms Wrapped Around Energy Consumption and Carbon Emissions

carbon pricingCatch me if you can — a moniker that may well apply to global fossil fuel usage and global carbon emissions. While global coal consumption fell by 1.8 percent, that was offset by a rise in natural gas and oil usage, according to BP’s June statistical analysis.

“As a result, global primary energy consumption grew by just 1.0 percent in 2015, similar to the rate of growth seen in 2014, but much slower than the average seen over the past decade,” says Bob Dudley, chief executive of BP. “Much of this weakness was driven by China, where energy consumption grew at its slowest rate in almost 20 years. Even so, China remained the world’s largest growth market for energy for a fifteenth consecutive year.”

Over time, the global economy will resume its expansion and thus the energy industry must continually search for new deposits while also working to mitigate carbon releases and the overall carbon footprint. Coal still accounted for a third of the world’s energy use in 2015.

BP says that it supports the COP21 agreement reached in Paris last December.

While coal fell to its lowest levels since 2005 — the 10-year average is a 2 percent increase — it remains the globe’s biggest consumer and producer of coal at 50 percent of the global total. Dudley says that the demand for oil and gas grew in 2015. So did the demand for renewable energy.

The implications for carbon emissions? They were flat in 2015, which is the lowest rate of “growth” in 25 years, Dudley says; they were also flat in 2009 — the year of the financial crisis, which is because of a global recession.

As for the United States, its carbon emissions fell by 145 million tons in 2015, and more than any country. China’s emissions also fell by 12 million tons. India, by contrast, led the world in carbon emissions increases. It has said that it will focus on carbon reductions in 2030 once it can get on a path to industrialization. It’s emissions increased by 112 million tons.

“Emerging economies now account for 58.1 percent of global energy consumption,” says BP. “Chinese consumption growth slowed to just 1.5 percent, while India (+5.2 percent) recorded another robust increase in consumption … A rare increase in European Union consumption (+1.6 percent) more than offset declines in the US (-0.9%) and Japan (-1.2%), where consumption fell to the lowest level since 1991.”


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