World may have climate change turnaround but New Zealand dragging its feet.

An unexpected global appetite for renewable energy, alongside other worldwide trends, means 2015 may be the first year ...

An unexpected global appetite for renewable energy, alongside other worldwide trends, means 2015 may be the first year CO2 emissions drop globally.

Merry Christmas, Mother Earth - this year humankind has first time cut its carbon emissions.

As world leaders meet at the United Nations climate change talks in Paris in an attempt to cap and then cull our collective greenhouse gas output, it appears we might have achieved the first step.

Up until this year, carbon emissions had been growing by more than 2 per cent annually for a decade. But in 2015, China's coal consumption dropped alongside a decreased global appetite for oil and natural gas and a rising desire for renewable energy, according to the Earth System Science Data journal paper released on Tuesday.

Scientific calculations based on these factors from June to October estimate that this year the world's atmosphere will receive 0.6 per cent less carbon than in 2014. Not that New Zealand can take any of the credit.

Our greenhouse gas pollution was expected to rise into the future, from a total of 73 million tonnes in 2011 to 82 million tonnes by 2030 - a 13 per cent jump.

The Ministry for Environment estimates showed agricultural emissions, including methane and nitrous oxide from cows and sheep, will rise as will our burning of petrol and diesel.

New Zealand has pledged to cut our emissions by 11 per cent compared to 1990 by 2030.

Despite the world's good news, Kiwi climate scientist James Renwick said it might be too soon to celebrate. The decrease might be a short-term blip. But if the downward trend continued into 2016, it would be incredibly exciting, he said.

"After decades of ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and at a time when we need some real action on climate change, this paper is very welcome news indeed."

The international team of scientists behind the projections highlighted that global GDP grew substantially even with the dropping carbon emissions. Renwick said the paper had some encouraging signs that economies were moving away from fossil fuel use.

Ad Feedback

Fellow Victoria University researcher Martin Manning said such a dropping carbon trend would be a win for the world's environment - thanks to China in particular. But the decrease did mask the fact many other countries, including New Zealand and India, were letting their greenhouse gas output grow.

"It's still too early to tell whether we are now starting to control CO2 in the atmosphere, but any good news for our climate is welcome."

New Zealand's growing outputs goes against the trend of many developed countries over recent years. The United States and Canada reduced their overall emissions from 2014 to 2015, according to the paper.

The European Union have cut their output by more than 4 per cent from 2012 to 2014. Australia also saw a 2 per cent decrease over the same time period.

It was hoped the 195 countries attending the Paris climate change talks would finalise an agreement before the discussions wrapped up on Friday.

 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback