Economy Continues to Grow Despite Decrease in Emissions

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Economists used to measure progress using emission rates correlated to GDP, now that comparison is ridiculous. A few years ago we looked at how carbon output is shrinking while economies grow and that is continuing to be the case. Earlier this year it was predicted that the global economy will continue to see a separation of economic progress and an increase in carbon output. This year it looks like we have been able to stall carbon output again (so now I’m hoping it will start going down).

What makes the three-year trend most remarkable is the fact that the global economy grew at more than 3% per year during this time. Previously, falling emissions were driven by stagnant or shrinking economies, such as during the global financial crisis of 2008.

Developed countries, together, showed a strong declining trend in emissions, cutting them by 1.7% in 2015. This decline was despite emissions growth of 1.4% in the European Union after more than a decade of declining emissions.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Canada to Phase Out Coal Power Plants

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The Canadian government has decided to end the use of coal for electricity by the year 2030. To make up the lost production the provinces which still use coal will have to replace their power plants with sustainable alternatives. This makes a lot of sense since using coal for electricity is really (really really really) bad for the environment and, as regular readers of this site know, the cost of setting up renewable energy is getting cheaper every year.

Let’s hope that other countries follow suit and stop using coal to produce electricity.

In announcing the plan today, federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said about 80 per cent of Canada’s electricity currently comes from clean sources such as hydroelectric power, nuclear, wind and solar. The goal is to make 90 per cent of electric power generation free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

“This will help build a more sustainable future, and it is also a great economic opportunity,” she said during a news conference in Ottawa.

The plan accelerates the current timetable for the four provinces that still burn coal for electricity — Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick — to either capture carbon emissions, adopt technology or shut down the plants.

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Global Carbon Output Decreases

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In order to avert catastrophic climate change we need to dramatically cut global carbon output. That’s what the Paris Agreement is all about and it comes in to force in just three more days. The really good news is not just that we have decreased carbon output it’s also that the Paris Agreement is going to accelerate the decline. Things are looking good in the carbon reduction portfolio!

The biggest driver was a decline in China’s coal consumption, which resulted a 6.4% drop the carbon intensity of the world’s second biggest economy.

A centrally-led shift of the economy to a service-based industry has begun to shut down the vast coal-fuelled steel and cement sectors. For the first time, China led the rankings table for the biggest drop in intensity.

The UK and US were also significant contributors, reducing by 6% and 4.7% respectively, to the overall drop as both governments introduced policies that pushed coal plants out of business. In the UK coal use dropped by 20% for the second year running.

Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said: “In the week in which the Paris Agreement comes into force, this is very promising news in showing that the dominant paradigm of economic growth is swiftly changing, which makes the Paris targets look more achievable.

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China Aims to Decrease Meat Consumption by 50%

Consuming meat as part of your diet increases your carbon footprint by a large factor. It take a lot more energy to produce meat than it does to produce plants. Indeed, many institutions have called for people around the world to consume less meat while increasing their fruits and veggies intake.

China has issued new dietary guidelines that encourage less meat consumption in hopes that it frees up resources (land, energy, etc.) for other means. Given the size of China’s population even a small percentage of Chinese changing their diets will make a difference.

New dietary guidelines drawn up by China’s health ministry recommend that the nation’s 1.3 billion population should consume between 40g to 75g of meat per person each day. The measures, released once every 10 years, are designed to improve public health but could also provide a significant cut to greenhouse gas emissions.

Should the new guidelines be followed, carbon dioxide equivalent emissions from China’s livestock industry would be reduced by 1bn tonnes by 2030, from a projected 1.8bn tonnes in that year.

Globally, 14.5% of planet-warming emissions emanate from the keeping and eating of cows, chickens, pigs and other animals – more than the emissions from the entire transport sector. Livestock emit methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, while land clearing and fertilizers release large quantities of carbon.

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Canadian Government Think Tank: Renewables Win Over Fossil Fuels


When the Conservatives were in charge of Canada they didn’t conserve at all, instead they rallied behind fossil fuels to power Canada’s economy. That foolish gamble contributed to a lame economy (sent the country into massive debt) and a dying planet (even sabotaging global discussions about carbon and fossil fuel. Canadians are hopeful that the new government led by the Liberals will reverse the Conservatives anti-common sense approach to energy policy.

Last week, a federal think tank release a report on the near term growth of Canada’s economy and global influence. They project that fossil fuels will be less important to the global economy with every passing year and that the benefits of switching to renewable energy for the planet are obvious.

At the core of the report’s forecasts is a growing number of indicators that suggest growth in the world’s demand for electricity — particularly renewable-based electricity — will outpace other energy types, while the costs of its production and storage fall faster than previously believed.

The demand is expected to be driven largely by the emerging and rapidly urbanizing middle class in developing countries.

Wind and solar systems have the advantage of being “highly scalable and distributable,” the report states, making them appealing for communities of virtually any size, with or without an existing electrical grid.

As a result, emerging economies in Latin America and Africa may follow a different development path than the West and “leap-frog” directly to renewables as a primary energy source in a relatively short timeframe.

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Read the full report.