The world’s carbon emissions from fossil fuels could decline this year for the first time during a period of strong economic growth, new research shows.
The latest report by the Global Carbon Project, co-authored by CSIRO scientist Pep Canadell, found emissions from fossil fuels could decline by 0.6 per cent in 2015. It follows a 0.6 per cent increase last year and would break a decade-long phase of emissions growth.
Dr Canadell put it down to China’s decreased coal consumption, with the nation’s emissions growth slowing to 1.2 per cent in 2014.
Australia was responsible for more than one per cent of the world’s total carbon emissions from fossil fuels, placing the country 17th on the list of largest contributors.
Per person emissions in Australia remain high but are dropping in line with recent years, the report found.
Director of Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, Richard Black, said the report suggested an “uncoupling” of economic and emissions growth.
‘Only a year ago people were assuming that economic growth and emissions growth were as inextricably coupled as Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin,’ he said.
‘Last year we saw signs that growth and emissions were uncoupling, and the new research suggests that’s set to continue and even accelerate.
‘The global projections for 2015 are estimates and could range from an increase of 0.5 per cent to a decrease up to 1.6 per cent.
The four biggest emitters in 2014 were China, the United States, the European Union and India.
China’s emissions growth is predicted to decline by four per cent this year, however the nation’s coal use remained the largest uncertainty for global emissions into the future.
‘Stabilisation, or reduction, in China’s coal use might be sustainable since more than half of the growth in the country’s energy consumption came from nonfossil fuel energy sources in 2014 and 2015,’ Dr Canadell said.
But director of the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia, Corrine Le Quere, warned the untypical emissions were likely temporary.
‘It’s unlikely that emissions have peaked for good,’ she said.
‘Global emissions need to decrease to near zero to achieve climate stabilisation.
‘Ministers from around the world arrived in Paris on Monday for the second week of negotiations on a potential climate deal, which is hoped to be forged by 196 parties by the end of the week.
The historic agreement would aim to slash carbon emissions with the goal of limiting global warming to at least two degrees.