Key Indicators of Progress on the Paris Agreement

A paper published in the February 2017 issue of Nature Climate Change, entitled “Key indicators to track current progress and future ambition of the Paris Agreement”, outlines a method whereby it would be possible to track how well country-level progress is being made in achieving the goals set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement.  The method outlined is based on the so-called “Kaya identity” which relates CO2 emissions to the product of GDB, energy intensity of GDP, and carbon intensity of energy.  It further decomposes the carbon intensity of energy into the share of fossil fuels in total use and carbon intensity of fossil-fuel combustion.

The authors apply the method to data covering the period 1990 through 2015 for China, the USA, the EU28 countries, India and “the rest of the world”.  Interestingly, the analysis demonstrates that the decline in the carbon intensity of fuel which has occurred within the US in recent years is due more to the substitution of natural gas for coal than it is to the expansion of renewable energy.  The EU carbon intensity decline is dominated by the growing share of renewables.

The study also shows that, “Although there has been strong growth in solar and wind power recently, the growth in global energy use has largely been dominated by increases in fossil-fuel use and, to a lesser extent by nuclear and hydropower.”

The study goes on to conclude that, “although many key indicators are currently broadly consistent with emission scenarios that keep temperatures below 2oC, the continued lack of large-scale carbon capture and storage threatens 2030 targets and the longer-term Paris ambition of net-zero emissions”.



Global CO2 Emissions Projected to Reach 43 Billion Tons Per Year by 2040

The International Energy Outlook 2016 (IEO2016) recently released by the US Energy Information Agency (EIA) projects that world energy consumption will rise from 549 quadrillion BTU in 2012 to 815 quadrillion BTU in 2040, an increase of approximately 48%.

The document makes clear that economic growth and population growth are the key determinants of growth of energy demand.  In that regard, it is worth noting that the IEA assumes that the world’s GDP will more than double during the next 25 years, growing at an average annual rate of 3.2%.  The EIA’s economic growth assumptions are generally in line with recent IMF and World Bank projections.

Renewable energy is expected to be the fastest-growing energy source, increasing by 2.6% per year through 2040, followed by nuclear energy which increases at an average annual rate of 2.3%.  Unfortunately, fossil fuel use also increases during this time period.  Natural gas consumption is projected to increases at an annual rate of 1.9%.  Petroleum and other liquid fuels consumption increases from 90 million barrels per day in 2012 to 121 billion barrels per day in 2040, an average annual increase of approximately 1.1% per year.  Coal consumption also continues to increase, albeit at a slower rate of 0.6% per year.  The net effect is that fossil fuels will still account for 78% of energy use in 2040.

Because of the increase in fossil fuel use, world energy-related CO2 emissions are expected to rise from 32.2 billion metric tons in 2012 to 43.2 billion metric tons in 2040 – an increase of 34% over the reference period. Continue reading