We’ve reached a plateau in global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the Global Carbon Project. In a rare bit of positive climate news, carbon emissions stayed flat for the third year in a row, though the report’s authors cautioned that it’s still “far too early to say we’ve reached a peak in emissions.” Reuters reports:
Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry were set to rise a tiny 0.2 percent in 2016 from 2015 levels to 36.4 billion tonnes, the third consecutive year with negligible change and down from three percent growth rates in the 2000s, it said. […]“So far the slowdown has been driven by China,” [the report’s co-author Glen Peters] said, adding Beijing’s climate change policies would also be the dominant force in future since it accounts for almost 30 percent of global emissions.
But let’s not give all the credit to Beijing. Here in the United States, CO2 emissions are projected to fall 1.7 percent this year in large part thanks to a decline in coal consumption. The dethroning of Old King Coal in America is well known at this point, but contrary to the claims of President-elect Donald Trump, that important shift in our national energy mix hasn’t come about from onerous federal regulations under the Obama Administration, but rather through market pressures applied by cheap, plentiful natural gas.And where, you ask, are we getting all of this cheap gas? From fracking, of course. Natural gas, when burned, emits roughly half as much CO2 as coal, which goes a long way in explaining why our national emissions are expected to drop this year.Greens love to rail against hydraulic fracturing and paint it as an environmental catastrophe, but when it comes to mitigating climate change, there are few tools more important in America’s eco-toolbox than the shale revolution.