February 26, 2018

Worldwide carbon emissions remained flat for third consecutive year

15 June 2017, 02:35 | Kara Nash

Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

Global consumption of coal fell by a record amount a year ago, driven by a rise in natural gas, increasing deployment of wind and solar power, and a shift in China away from heavy industry, according to BP's global review of energy trends. Growth was below average in all global regions except in Europe & Eurasia, and all fuels except oil and nuclear power grew at below-average rates. As in 2015, this strength was nearly entirely due to oil importers, with both India (0.3 Mb/d) and Europe (0.3 Mb/d) posting unusually strong increases.

Major energy firms would need to spend more than £275bn on wind and solar by 2035 to take a market share similar to the current oil and gas stake of 12%, according to research.

It is the second straight year that coal demand has declined.

The Dated Brent oil price averaged $43.73 per barrel in 2016, down from $52.39 per barrel in 2015 and its lowest (nominal) annual level since 2004, according to the report.

This transition from coal coincides with renewables being the fastest growing energy source previous year, now providing a share of just under 4% of primary energy worldwide.

Dr Jonathan Marshall, Energy Analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit think tank, said: "The U.S. saw an astonishing 9 per cent fall in demand, while Chinese hunger for energy is being tempered by moves to a more sustainable growth pathway and the rapid expansion of renewables, which spells even further trouble for coal in the years to come".

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Worldwide, oil consumption grew by 1.5%, driven by stronger-than-usual growth in rich countries, but production growth was weak in the face of low oil prices. Coal consumption in the US fell almost 9% in 2016 and nearly 2% in China, the world's largest producer and consumer of the commodity.

"While welcome, it is not yet clear how much of this break from the past is structural and will persist", he said in a statement. All this meant that carbon emissions were essentially flat in 2016, BP said.

Oil consumption has also slowed with China's increased consumption rate standing at 2.7%, a decrease from their 5.5% growth over the 2005-2015 timeframe.

However, a new report by the major oil producers admitted that the rebalancing of supply and demand had happened at "a slower pace" because the United States was producing more oil on the back of higher prices. From the UK's first coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution to India halting coal plant production in the very near future, the bad news has been coming thick and fast for coal over the last few years.

As China continues to look for ways to power its economic growth, it has also began to turn the page on coal and began exploring renewable energy sources.

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