Carbon emissions have steady for three years in a row. The Global Carbon Project says that such releases have remain flat even as economic growth has grown by 3%. To be precise, the group says that carbon releases will be 0.2% more than in 2015.
The Washington Post is reporting that 67 researchers participated in the study, which has been published in the journal Earth System Science Data. It says that the good results are because the two biggest carbon emitters — the United States and China — have cut their coal usage.
As for China, its carbon releases have fallen by 0.7% from 2015 to 2016 and they are expected to fall by a similar amount this year, or 0.5%. In the United States, the results were even better: 2.6% less from 2015 to 2016 and they are anticipated to be 1.7% less this year.
“2016 we estimate to be flat again,” said Glen Peters, one of the contributors to the research and a scientist at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research-Oslo in Norway, the paper reports. “It’s definitely three years, it’s fairly flat, which is quite a contrast to a decade ago, when it was growing at about 3 percent. It’s really leveled out the last few years.”
To be sure, not every country has done so well. India, for example, registered a 5.2% increase from 2015 to 2016. Moreover, such carbon emissions are still 63% more than they were in 1990, the Post says.
If the Paris accord is to met and temperature increases are to rise no more than 2 degrees Celsius by mid Century, then the world must keep its carbon output to no more than 800 billion tons, the paper says. That’s a hard feat in-and-of-itself. But now that President-elect Trump has said he would withdraw from the global climate treaty, it puts cold water on the entire effort.
“If history has proven correctly, we can have a clean and green environment and a growing economy,” says Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey Governor, EPA Administrator and now a co-chair of the CASEnergy Coalition, in an interview.
“It is clear to me that regulations are forcing us to move away from coal,” adds Tom Fanning, chief executive of Southern Co.. “But we have to do this in a way that does not destroy the livelihoods of those who work in the industry. The human consequences are enormous of shutting down plants.”
The reality is that this country is already halfway toward its carbon goals — a trend that seems unstoppable, given the cheap price of abundant natural gas and the thinning coal seams in Central Appalachia. When the growth of new and greener technologies is factored in, along with the ecologically-minded American public, it will be hard to reverse the progress. Still, the world needs the United States to be an example to other countries — not an outlier intent on making political statements.