If the Paris agreement target of keeping global warming to well below 2°C is to be met, it is generally agreed that global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels and industry need to peak and then decline very soon–meaning before the end of next year, or very shortly after.
A recent study published in Nature Climate Change sheds light on how 18 countries have managed to achieve this feat: effectively reducing their emissions of CO2 over the period 2005 to 2015. The figure below shows emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels for the 18 countries in the ‘peak and decline’ group.
In spite of this positive performance by 18 countries representing almost 30 percent of total CO2 emissions, global emissions of energy-related CO2 rose in 2017– after a sluggish period from 2014 to 2016 when there was hope that emissions may have flatlined. That hasn’t happened, and estimates for 2018 indicate that CO2 emissions are continuing to rise.
It’s instructive to look more closely at how this group of ‘peak and decline’ countries have managed to reduce their CO2 emissions over the decade through to 2015. Are there lessons to be learned?
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