15 November, 2016
A world greatly concerned about how the election of Donald Trump as the next US president could stall global climate policy received a major dose of welcome news Sunday, when scientists published a projection suggesting that for the third straight year, global carbon dioxide emissions did not increase much in 2016.
In December a year ago, researchers at the University of East Anglia and the Global Carbon Project projected that global emissions were slowing down.
However, other countries will have to play their part to ensure the slowdown in emissions is not a temporary blip.
The annual output of carbon dioxide from the use of fossil fuels increased by about 3% per annum through the first decade of this century. Well, it could be the start of a downward trend, which would prove massively beneficial in the fight against global warming. "But certainly you would say, even leveling out, like we have over the last three years, is a big surprise".
China's rapid economic expansion, which saw two new coal fired power stations being built every week, drove the global rise in Carbon dioxide over the past 16 years.
The biggest surprise, however, came in the source of worldwide carbon emission slowdown, which scientists attributed to the decrease in consumption of coal in China since 2012. Will this trend of decoupling emissions continue?
The drop is due to a reduction in demand for American coal, something that President-elect Trump has vowed to change.
Despite what might happen with the Paris Agreement, which was debated for two decades and went into effect November 4, there is still hope for natural gas, wind and solar energies to continue displacing coal in the USA thanks to new technology and lower prices.
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Luckily I had the option of not going to them and I don't think I missed much. "He is more experienced than his 19 years suggest". Dhoni was struggling with his captaincy in Tests and Virat Kohli had not yet completely arrived in the Test arena.
"However, Donald Trump as president could undermine this achievement if he carries through with his threat to scrap the Obama Administration's Clean Power Plan, and encourages an increase in the use of coal for electricity generation", he says. And while the pause is welcomed, its longevity may be shortlived as pollution from nations such as India increases.
"This third year of nearly no growth in emissions is unprecedented at a time of strong economic growth".
It's hard to say whether the trends from the last three years portend a turning point for global emissions - Glen Peters, one of the contributors to the research, told the Washington Post that more long-term data from China is necessary before saying for certain whether emissions have peaked.
"This could be the turning point we have hoped for", David Reay, Professor of Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement. Scientists at the Global Carbon Project have released a report detailing that carbon emissions have remained flat for the last three years in a row.
"This is a great help for tackling climate change but it is not enough", said Le Quere.
However there are a growing number of uncertainties ahead. Despite the increasing consumption of oil and gas, U.S.is projected to have a further reduction of 1.7 percent in their emissions this 2016.
Peters said it is still unclear whether the slowdown in Chinese emissions - which fell by 0.7 per cent in 2015 - are a sign of the country's smooth transition to a lower carbon economy or a sign of economic instability. Keeping things levels won't help the world stop rising global temperatures and catastrophic climate change.