A study conducted by UEA professors at the Tyndall Centre has revealed that CO2 emissions are declining in 18 developed economies, including the UK, USA and Germany.
The nations in question represent 28 percent of emissions worldwide and so this reduction could see a significant decrease in overall global emissions.
The team at Tyndall examined potential reasons for this decline and concluded that it was due to a combination of increasing use of renewable energy, and increasing awareness and implementation of energy efficiency procedures.
Another possible explanation was the significant decrease in energy usage in 2008-2009 during the global financial crisis, which was characterised by reduced economic growth and therefore less pressure due to the increasing demand for fossil fuels seen previously. However, it is believed that the link between established energy policies and decline in emissions remains the key factor.
A main point from the team of researchers is that ‘untangling’ the reasons behind past improvements is essential in ensuring the correct measures are continually implemented so that we stand a chance of meeting the two degrees celsius reduction outlined in the Paris Agreement.
The report only analysed data up until 2015, meaning the effect of recent political developments on the climate is yet to be seen; however, it’s predicted that Brexit will hinder the UK’s process, while Trump’s ideology is likely to cause drastic change in emissions alongside the change in policy. Researcher Charlie Wilson says ‘we found that these policy count statistics were strongly and significantly correlated with corresponding energy or emission trends’, emphasising that the takeaway message from this research is ‘the importance of energy use’.
The research found that regardless of investment in alternative energy use, if this is part of a rapidly expanding system, as it is in most developing countries, then diversifying energy sources is unlikely to have enough impact.