Phasing out fossil fuels

Greenhouse emissions data

Professor Peter Newman contends that our cities are driving a change which is reducing greenhouse gas emissions from both coal and oil.

IN 2016 the International Energy Agency announced that the world had changed. For the first time in hundreds of years the world was producing less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than the year before without this being caused by an economic crisis1. In 2015 the amount of GHG emitted to the world’s atmosphere decreased by around 0.5% while economic growth continued at more than 3%. A few scientists had predicted this, but mostly the fossil fuel lobby had been in complete denial over its possibility2.

As Figure 1 shows, for the first time the industrial world was producing wealth without this meaning more fossil fuels and more emissions. Despite its huge implications for a world that has faced the global climate issue for decades without much good news, the world’s media were virtually silent.

China is now decoupling their economic growth from GHG very rapidly as shown in Figure 2. This provides great hope that the process will now spread to the whole emerging world. China invested $90 billion in renewables in 2015 (more than 60% of their investment in energy), so much of their continuing growth will be based around solar and wind rather than the fossil fuel-based economic growth of the past 15 years.

Read the full article in ReNew 139.

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