For optimists, it was tempting to view three years of flat-lining global carbon emissions, from 2014-16, as the new normal. We now know celebrations should be put on hold. Figures for 2017 published last week show global emissions from energy have jumped back up again, to a historic high. To compound matters, progress on energy efficiency slowed dramatically in the face of lower energy prices and weakening government policy. On the plus side, renewables were the fastest-growing source of new energy and had another unprecedented year. China added as much solar power in a single year as the total installed capacity across France and Germany. The US scored the steepest drop in emissions, despite Donald Trump’s first year as president, as new renewable generation bloomed. Indeed, with renewables records being broken seemingly every week – last weekend the UK set a new high for wind power – it is easy to think the fight has been won. But the IEA’s work is a sobering reminder that stratospheric growth in renewables is not enough. Renewables put a brake on emissions but they don’t stop coal, oil and gas from being dug out of the ground.
Guardian 25th March 2018 read more »