In 2019, drops in emissions in advanced economies were largely the result of shifts in the energy sector, with expanding use of renewable energies like wind and solar, which don't emit greenhouse gases.
"We now need to work hard to make sure that 2019 is remembered as a definitive peak in global emissions, not just another pause in growth", according to Fatih Birol, the IEA's executive director. According to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Americans have mixed feelings about changing personal habits to conserve energy and reduce emissions that are warming the planet. For the first time ever, natural gas produced more electricity than coal and wind-powered electricity almost caught up with coal-fired electricity. Other factors included milder weather in several countries, and slower economic growth in some emerging markets, the IEA said. The European Union also saw a 5 per cent decline, while Japan saw a 4 per cent drop.
"Coal-fired power plants faced even stronger competition from natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas prices an average of 45% lower than 2018 levels".
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The power sector now accounts for 36% of energy-related emissions across advanced economies, down from a high of 42% in 2012. "The IEA is building a grand coalition focused on reducing emissions - encompassing governments, companies, investors and everyone with a genuine commitment to tackling our climate challenge". By 2050, carbon dioxide emissions in the High Economic Growth case are 13 percent higher than in the Reference case and 9 percent higher than 2019 levels.
The country with the biggest drop in energy-related Carbon dioxide emissions was the United States, which recorded a fall of 2.9 percent to 4.8 gigatons on the back of coal-fired power plant closures and lower demand for electricity.
In Japan, emissions dropped by nearly 45 million tonnes, or around four per cent, representing the country's fastest pace of decline in over a decade thanks to output from recently restarted nuclear generators.
But emissions in the rest of the world increased by nearly 400 million tonnes in 2019, with almost 80 per cent of the growth coming from countries in Asia where coal-fired power generation continued to rise.
He emphasized that the initiative would make coal plants smaller and more efficient, and also look for alternative uses for the fossil fuel which was once a livelihood to millions of families throughout coal country, but is now becoming a much smaller part of the US energy sector.