There is a bit of good news to share that might have slipped under your nose. The USA had the largest CO2 reduction in the world in 2019 on a country basis (as you can see above, as an entire economic bloc, the EU had a greater CO2 reduction). This news comes from data gathered by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were down in 2019 by around 33 gigatonnes after two years of increases. The IEA says that this came from a sharp decline in CO2 emissions from the power sector in advanced economies and credits the role of renewable sources (wind and solar). It also adds that choosing natural gas over coal has been a big help. (Editor’s note: There’s a lot of controversy about accounting on this topic, specifically related to methane emissions throughout the natural gas lifecycle.)
Global CO2 emissions from the use of coal declined by almost 200 million tonnes, or 1.3%, from 2018’s levels, which offset increases in emissions from oil and natural gas. US emissions are down almost one gigatonne from their peak in 2000.
The European Union, including the UK, showed a drop by 160 megatonnes. This was driven mostly by the power sector and switching from coal to gas.
Germany led the decline in emissions in Europe, which saw its emissions fall to a level that hasn’t been seen since the 1950s: 620 megatonnes. It should be noted that the last time Germany saw such a low amount of carbon emissions its economy was 10 times smaller than it is now.
Japan also saw its energy-related CO2 emissions fall 4.3%, its fastest pace of decline since 2009.
This is extremely good news, but we as a global people still have our work cut out for us. We should definitely take a moment to celebrate, but we have to keep working towards reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that is being put into our atmosphere. The fact that the US is leading CO2 reduction globally just shows that what we are doing is working — slowly, but it is working. Though, we all need to implement reductions faster.