While delegates from around the world sit down for a second week at the negotiating table in Paris to try to hammer out a Global Climate Deal, a group of scientists is reporting something surprising: Global greenhouse gas emissions might actually have decreased this year. The FT reports:
It was already known that emissions from burning fossil fuels barely grew last year. But preliminary estimates from an international group of scientists show they may have actually fallen by 0.6 per cent in 2015.
That would be a dramatic turnround from the 2-3 per cent annual emissions growth recorded since 2000 and a rare occurrence in a year when the International Monetary Fund expects the global economy to grow by about 3 per cent. Global emissions normally only fall when economic crises slow the power plants and factories that pump out carbon pollution.
The data this research team is using only runs through October of this year, which is why these are preliminary estimates and not definitive results. And while we’re on the subject of caveats, it should be noted that the team’s margin of error allowed that this year’s emissions could be down by as much as 1.5 percent, or even up by 0.5 percent.
But all of that being said, the simple fact that we’re discussing the tapering off of and even a potential drop in global emissions is significant. This is yet another nail in the coffin of Malthusian climate panic, and another sign that managing humanity’s global environmental footprint is getting easier, not harder, as technology advances. Greens have a natural tendency to play the role of Chicken Little and little capacity for acknowledging any positive climate news. But good news is exactly what this new research is.