How can governments reduce emissions and change climate trends
Recent studies show how emissions generated by the energy sectors have been declining in recent years.
UN Environment’s Emission Gap Report 2016, in fact, states:
“In 2015 global CO2 emissions stagnated for the first time and showed signs of a weak decline compared to 2014 (of 0.1%). This was preceded by a slowdown in the growth rate of CO2 emissions, from 2% in 2013 to 1.1% in 2014.”
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The reasons of this results
This slowdown is due to a number of reasons, in particular these 3:
- The steady growth in deployment of energies generated by renewable sources, like solar energy, wind power, hydropower, bio energy and many others;
- The spread of energy-smart technologies, such as innovative battery storage systems that enable renewable energy sources to be more efficient, or smart lighting systems which reduce the need for electricity altogether;
- A lower trend in energy demand – in 2015, countries around the world have been using less electricity than in previous years.
US, UK and China have performed particularly well in this sense, reducing considerably their carbon emissions.
The drop of C02 emissions from energy consumption
The Energy Information Administration states how that carbon dioxide emissions from US energy consumption, including transport as well as power, were 2,530 megatonnes in the first half of 2016, forecasting 5,179 megatonnes for the whole year.
This would be 14% less than in 2007, and the lowest since 1992.
With regards to China, the International Energy Agency in March 2016 reported that emissions dropped 1.5% in 2015, beating the agency’s expectations from 2010 that Chinese emissions would grow 1.6% per year between 2008 and 2035.
Similarly, when looking at the UK, the total net CO2 emissions were 383.8 megatonnes in the year to the second quarter of 2016, down 29% from 2007 and 36% from the peak year of 1991.
The rise of earth temperature
Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. The same UN Environment’s Emission Gap Report 2016 also warned:
“The world is still heading for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius this century, even with Paris pledges.”
One of the considerations that lead experts towards this bleak prediction is the probable rising electricity demand in emerging economic regions, such as South East Asia, South America and India, which are still behind in terms of renewable energies and still very much connected to the coal-fired generation.
Furthermore, recent reports have shown significant increases in global temperatures and in CO2 in the atmosphere.
According to initial analyses by NASA and the NOAA, published in January 2017, global temperature in 2016 were also higher than for any year on record.
The US organisations stated that average temperatures last year were 0.98 degrees Centigrade warmer than the 1951-80 average.
Possible solutions for the global warming issue
So what can we do to fight with this scary scenario and deal with an important issue such as global warming?
As individuals we can take small but important decision in our everyday life such as:
- Power up our home through energy suppliers only using renewable energies;
- Reduce water and food waste (just to give an idea, around 10% of US. energy use goes into food industry and about 40 percent of the food industry products ends up in the landfill!);
- Drive fuel-efficient and electric vehicles as they can both save you money and drastically reduce carbon emission on the atmosphere.
When looking at this problem form a government perspective, the most important decisions that independent countries can take to fight climate change is to increase taxes on the carbon economy and implement policies of ‘disinvestment’ in the oil industries.
Only in this way they can meaningfully fight climate change and fully embrace the new energy revolution.