BP: Global carbon emissions flat for third year in a row

Randolph Lopez
June 15, 2017

Global energy demand grew by 1 percent in 2016, a rate similar to those seen in the previous two years but well below the 10-year average of 1.8 percent, the British company said in its benchmark Statistical Review of World Energy. China is vowing to invest $361 billion in renewables by 2020, yet the Trump administration is doubling down on fossil fuel production, all while criticizing China for not doing enough to control its emissions.

Coal's share as a primary energy source dropped to 28.1 per cent, its lowest level since 2004, BP's annual Statistical Review of World Energy revealed. U.S. President Donald Trump declared Thursday he was pulling the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate agreement, striking a major blow to worldwide efforts to combat global warming and distancing the country from its closest allies overseas. China's solar and wind revolution means the country has displaced the United States as the largest renewables producer, with the Asia Pacific region taking top spot over Europe & Eurasia on a continental level.

Coal production fell by the most on record past year as power producers switched to natural gas as well as wind and solar power.

In contrast, the challenges faced by the global coal industry continued, with coal use falling 1.7 per cent on the back of weak demand from the USA and China - a trend experts are increasingly sceptical can be reversed.

"The fortunes of coal appear to have taken a decisive break from the past", BP's Chief Economist Spencer Dale said at a briefing in London on Tuesday.

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Renewables such as wind and solar power were the fastest-growing energy sources in 2016, BP said, increasing output by 12%. The 2017 edition of the Review reveals that global carbon emissions only grew by 0.1% in 2016, marking the third year in a row that recorded flat or falling emissions, and the lowest three-year average for emissions growth since 1981-83. "Although, growth in China (0.4 Mb/d) and the USA (0.1 Mb/d) was more subdued", said the report.

"It is only four years ago that coal was the largest source of energy demand growth", he commented.

Bob Dudley commented: "While welcome, it is not yet clear how much of this break from the past is structural and will persist". All this meant that carbon emissions were essentially flat in 2016, BP said.

The world seems focused on combatting climate change and implementing new methods to produce energy since President Trump pulled out of the Paris Accords, with China as well as Europe doing more to promote change.

"Oil remained the world's leading fuel, accounting for a third of global energy consumption. At the same time markets are responding to shorter-run run factors, most notably the oversupply that has weighed on oil prices for the past three years".

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