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Global fossil-fuel emissions may decline in 2015: study

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Paris: Annual global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels could drop slightly in 2015, even as India figured as the fourth top emitter in 2014, accounting for 7.2 per cent of worldwide emissions, according to a new report. The result underlines the need for action to stabilise and permanently lower global carbon dioxide emissions, the researchers said as climate talks continue in Paris.

The report from the Global Carbon Project led by a Stanford University researcher identified China as the world’s top carbon dioxide emitter in 2014, responsible for 27 per cent of global emissions, followed by the US (15.5 per cent), the European Union (9.5 per cent) and India (7.2 per cent).

“In 2014, global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels grew by just 0.6 per cent,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University who led the study.


“This year we expect total emissions to flatten or drop slightly, despite strong growth in gross domestic product worldwide,” he added. While carbon dioxide emissions have slowed during times of economic recession, this would be the first decline during a period of strong global economic growth, researchers said.

“Decreased coal use in China was largely responsible for the decline in global CO2 emissions,” said Corinne Le Quere of the University of East Anglia in the UK. “After a decade of rapid growth, China’s emissions rate slowed to 1.2 per cent in 2014 and is expected to drop by 3.9 per cent in 2015,” she added.

“Whether a slower growth in emissions will be sustained depends on the use of coal in China and elsewhere, and where new sources of energy will come from,” said Pep Canadell of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

“In 2014, more than half of new energy needs in China were met from non-fossil fuel sources, such as hydro, nuclear, wind and solar power,” he added.

This trend was also accompanied by slower global growth in petroleum use and faster growth in renewables, with wind and solar capacities achieving record increases in 2014. “The most promising finding in our report is the coupling of lower carbon emissions with a strong economic growth of more than 3 per cent,” Jackson said.

“Reaching zero emissions will require long-term commitments from countries attending the climate meeting in Paris this week and beyond,” Jackson said. Achieving climate stabilisation will require reducing emissions to near zero, researchers said.

The findings were published in the journals Nature Climate Change and Earth System Science Data.