Global CO2 emissions increase slowed down in 2012

Climate change newsWhat better kind of news than good ones ? So let’s start this month of November by something that will cheer you up as the fight against climate change and rising temperatures may well soon be reaching a turnaround moment.

To a brand new report from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, global carbon dioxide emissions increased in 2012 by only 1.4 percent, which is less than half the average over the last decade.

These great news can be explained by more renewable energies, a shift towards less fossil fuel intensive activities and an increase in energy efficiency.

There are many good reasons to rejoice :

  • Chinese emissions rose by only three percent, compared to over ten percent in the past decade. Now Chinese per capita emissions are comparable to EU levels ;
  • The United States emissions decreased by four percent, mostly thanks to a shift from dirty coal to natural gas ( as well as other reasons, cf this post ) ;
  • The European Union saw its own emissions decrease by 1.6 percent due to a decrease in energy consumption and less road freight transport ;
  • This modest increase in emissions took place while the global economy grew by 3.5 percent. Decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gases emissions is taking place ;
  • As Kees van der Leun pointed out on Twitter from the report :World coal consumption grew by only 0.6% in 2012, in spite of 3.5% economic growth “
  • Renewables such as wind and solar are soaring: ” from 1992 it took 15 years for the share to double from 0.5% to 1.1%, but only 6 more years to do so again, to 2.4% by 2012. “


Together, China, the USA and the European Union account for 55 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Of course, as all analysts, journalists and activists have pointed out, this is good news but clearly not enough to save our civilization and societies from global warming, rising sea levels and so on.

Getting off fossil fuels – whether natural gas, oil or coal – is the ultimate goal… Further progress in this direction is needed if this is to happen, and happen in time.

To put things into perspective, here is an infographic taken from the excellent interactive presentation of the report :

Global carbon dioxide emissions since 1970. Click to enlarge to full size
Global carbon dioxide emissions since 1970. Click to enlarge to full size

I have outlined on a previous post of this blog a few solutions to curb emissions. They include a global carbon tax or ending fossil fuel subsidies. Read out more there.

Next week I shall propose you an article on an often overlooked solution : energy efficiency. So stay tuned…

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