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Growth of coal use sees carbon emissions reach record high

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Climate
Growth of coal use sees carbon emissions reach record high Shutterstock
01 Jan
Strong growth in coal consumption has consolidated the fuel as the main source of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Global Carbon Project’s (GCP) annual analysis of global carbon emissions

Emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production reached a high of 35 billion tonnes in 2012, almost 60 per cent more than the level of 1990. Although the rate at which emissions are increasing appears to be slowing, they still grew by 2.2 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

Emissions from coal increased in several countries in 2012, including India (up 10.2 per cent), Japan (up 5.6 per cent) and Germany (up 4.2 per cent). ‘While society is seeing many positive developments in renewable energy, this increased production capacity is not simply displacing coal consumption,’ said Glen Peters, a senior research fellow at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo.

About 70 per cent of 2012’s growth in global emissions was due to the 5.9 per cent increase in emissions from China. Coal accounted for about 68 per cent of Chinese energy consumption; hydropower and renewables for about eight per cent.

‘Even though renewable and hydro energy consumption in China grew by around 25 per cent in 2012, this growth is from a low baseline,’ Peters said. ‘The growth in low-carbon energy sources was more than offset by a 6.4 per cent increase on coal consumption.’

This story was published in the January 2014 edition of Geographical Magazine

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