Global carbon intensity falls

800px-Shelby_Farms_Solar_Farm_Memphis_TN_2013-02-02_008Some good news as global carbon intensity falls.  Carbon intensity is falling due to the fall in coal power worldwide.  Carbon intensity (or the carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product) fell in 2015 by 2.8%.  This may not sound like much but is more than double the rate that carbon intensity between 2000 and 2014.  This is regarded as a step change and is very encouraging when it comes to climate change.  When we wrote our book we talked a lot about peak coal which looked relatively imminent (coal reserves looked very overstated).  Coal use looked if not if unstoppable then certainly embedded in the global economy.  Its really only over the last couple of years that people have turned against coal.  The main reason that carbon intensity is falling is that Chinese use of coal is plunging.  Remember every time climate change was discussed we were told not to bother doing anything since the Chinese were opening a new coal fired plant every week? Well no longer, the rise of renewable energy has led to a plunge in coal use in China as elsewhere (new out today UK coal use is plunging as well).

This is some good news since the Paris climate talks.  There is encouragement here but no room for complacency.  There is a lot of the economy to decarbonise yet, electricity being the easy bit but electricity demand may rise as we switch heat and transport to electricity.


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