Cue the sad violins: Emissions numbers are in from 2018, and they suck. Carbon emissions rose 2% worldwide last year, according to the 2019 Capgemini World Energy Markets Observatory report. This comes following an encouraging plateau from 2014 to 2016, and then a 1.6% increase in 2017. The notable offenders are:
- China: +2.3%
- U.S. +3.4%
- India +6.3%
These figures further bump the world off track for meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement standards, which would still allow the world to warm by 2 degrees C by 2050.
Energy consumption usually drives most carbon emissions, and energy consumption was up 2.3% worldwide in 2018. The offenders list looks familiar:
- China: +3.5%
- U.S. +3.7%, following years of decline
- India +4%
The greatest challenge is coal usage, which is a cheap and available source of energy, especially in developing countries. Both the Philippines and Vietnam have increased their energy consumption by 8% from 2014-2018, and President Trump, the report notes, “took measures to support US demand for coal.”
Upbeat news: Europe logged a 2.5% decrease in emissions (down 22% since 1990!) and only a 0.2% increase in energy consumption. But as the report points, while it is a “good student” among nations, “it is only a small contributor to global warming and its good achievements don’t really help solve the global problem.”
In other bright spots, renewable power generation was up 14.5%, and the costs for renewable energies continued to remarkably plummet—concentrated solar power is down 26%, and hydropower is down 11%. This said, the report highlights a notable dip (14%) in clean energy investments in the first two quarters of this year, which does not bode well.
The take-home message: Want to save the world? Pour your money into clean energy investments right about now.
More statistics are here.