We often have a look at the BP statistical review – it’s a useful compendium of energy industry data. In the 2013 edition they examine the carbon emissions from energy use. What of these? The IEA view seems to be that renewable energy is starting to make some inroads into emission levels. Is it? Looking at the data for 5 countries two things stand out. The USA and China emit vastly more carbon than anyone else and it does look like the USA’s carbon emissions (at least those from electricity production) have peaked. The overall global figure rose by 1.9% but many countries in BPs spreadsheet have falling emissions from energy. This includes almost all European countries but also countries in Latin America and Asia. It does look like a high penetration of renewable energy is starting to have an effect. In the long term this bodes well for energy security as well.
Of course not all carbon emissions are from energy use. The biggest sources are agriculture and forestry. Nevertheless we can take some encouragement from these figures. Even China’s carbon emissions are slowing down. We’ve left it awfully late but just maybe we will manage to have falling emissions by 2020. It remains an open question whether this is anything like soon enough, or whether as some climate watchers argue, by then it will be too late.