Global CO2 Emissions Did Not Increase in 2019

Global emissions were unchanged at 33 gigatonnes in 2019 even as the world GDP grew by 2.9%. Increased wind, solar power, natural gas power and higher nuclear power output in developed countries offset increased emissions in emerging countries.

* coal CO2 emission declined by about 200 million tonnes (Mt). This was -1.3%.
* advanced economies emissions declined by 370 Mt (or 3.2%) and the power sector was the reason for 85% of the drop
* Milder weather reduced emissions by around 150 Mt and weak global economic growth also played a role
* The average CO2 emissions intensity of electricity generation declined by nearly 6.5% in 2019, a rate three times faster than the average over the past decade.

Factors are continuing 2020 as well. China, India and Asia are still having weaker economic growth in 2020. There is a lot of slowdown from the coronavirus.

The test will be what happens in 2021 or later when China, India and the rest of Asia have stronger economic growth.

39 thoughts on “Global CO2 Emissions Did Not Increase in 2019”

  1. The issue isn’t whether in the past the earth has been as hot as that before, the issue is the rapid change in global average temperature, which makes it difficult to adapt to. In previous natural instances, the temperature change tended to be much slower on a global level.

  2. What are you responding to? It’s the global output that didn’t increase and the average CO2 emissions intensity of electricity generation that declined by nearly 6.5%, china isn’t the totality of global or the average.


    Satellite photos (I’ll find the site) show the Chinese are actually consuming quite a bit more coal, today, than they were 3 years ago. Quite a bit more. This coincides with large power and process heat plant build-outs. But mostly , a whole lot more trains comporting the black stuff hither, thither and yon. Yet, their numbers decline. Oh… and we’re to believe that?

    Brian’s linked source(iea)

    In China, emissions rose but were tempered by slower economic growth and higher output from low-carbon sources of electricity. Renewables continued to expand in China, and 2019 was also the first full year of operation for seven large-scale nuclear reactors in the country.

  3. 2-3 ppm per year, yes… 96% of it coming from natural sources.
    33Gt (human) / 775 Gt (natural) + 33 Gt (human) =4%
    Why so much natural emissions? Probably because we are just coming out of the “Little Ice Age” and the warming oceans are degassing their CO2.
    Unless it is the usual 800 years lag between warming and CO2 release. In that last case it could be the delayed effects of the “Medieval Warm Period”.

  4. “Not sure if there is enough coal/oil/methane on earth to ever reach a doubling of CO2”.

    Now, that in an interesting one. I have been wondering about that myself and made some back-of-the-envelope estimates;
    I came to the conclusion that burning all recoverable oil and natgas (assuming about 200 gt of each, making some 400 gt total) would indeed not be nearly enough for a doubling, my guesstimate came to somewhere between 500 and 600 ppm (actually closer to 500) new CO2 level, assuming half of the emissions would be absorbed.

    Coal would be an entirely different story, there is still a lot of it, about 800-1000 gt recoverable, if I am not mistaken. If all of that were burned, with the same assumptions about 50% absorption, then that alone could increase atm. CO2 by half, or about 200 ppm *increase*.

    All together, atm. CO2 level could increase to about 700-800 ppm.
    Theoretically, I think.
    Anyone else, GG?

  5. Which part of John ONeill’s very clear explanation did you not, and/or are you reluctant, to understand?
    The relatively small, but still significant difference between human CO2 emissions and natural absorption of it, is exactly the gradual build-up of it in the atmosphere, some 2-3 ppm per year. Very significant over time. Hence the more or less straight line going up (and steeper in recent years), that you mention.

  6. I know that natural emissions (and absorptions) are around 800 gt per year.
    Human emissions are indeed a small fraction of this (being around 40 gt), and are even partly/largely absorbed by vegetation, soil and oceans.
    However, the part that is *not* absorped this way, around 16-20 gt of CO2 per year, that is the part that accumulates in the atmosphere, and is known as atmospheric CO2 increase, presently some 2-3 ppm per year.

  7. Plants, rain and the oceans will remove a certain amount of CO2. If we can reduce the emissions of CO2 enough then the earth can reach an equilibrium.

  8. Mauna loa is in function since late 50ies and the progression of CO2 is almost a straight line, not an exponential. That’s not surprising since natural CO2 yearly emissions is around 775 Gt and human CO2 barely 30 Gt. Human influence on global CO2 is small.
    What’s important is the supposed retro-action effect (climate sensitivity to CO2 doubling) through theorized increase in water vapor (Venus-like, then 4°C, then 2°C, then 1.5°C, and still falling).
    Not sure if there is enough coal/oil/methane on earth to ever reach a doubling of CO2.

    And the steam engine was invented by Denis Papin, not that James Watt impostor 🙂

  9. Even if we manage to keep zero emissions growth, that’s still very different from zero emissions. The emissions per year maybe is peaking, but the total CO2 in the atmosphere certainly isn’t.

  10. As Dickens put it ‘ “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and six pence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery !” The Mauna Loa figures show levels cycling up and down by ~ 5 to 10 parts per million, in time with the northern hemisphere growth season, but each year the sawtooth is ratcheted up a little. In the forties it took a whole decade to go up by 1 ppm, now it’s 3 ppm per year and climbing. The result has been a forty percent rise since Watt’s steam engine kicked off the industrial revolution, and a probable doubling before the end of the century.

  11. Some figures show ‘CO2e’ – carbon dioxide equivalent – which include human emissions of methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorocarbons, calculated at similar heating to CO2 over a period usually of a hundred years.

  12. The climate models are not being very friendly of late. Even the scientists are skeptical.
    Not worth the risk of delay to me. We only need maybe $250B, and $300B for safe measure for defense…including the defense of many of our friends, but we are squandering $935B a year. I think it is a lot less silly to build 50+ reactors very soon, rather than dragging our feet. Just turn down the military spending dial.
    I am not into the funky taxes and schemes to punish people with high prices…making them have homes cold in winter…hot in the summer. Just build the dang reactors.
    We also need to address methane emissions. We need to char waste at the landfills so we don’t just feed a lot of bacteria that release methane. Sewage needs to be similarly treated or fed to plants. Cows can be fed feed that has a bit of seaweed in it which can reduce their methane emissions more than 90%.
    The thawing of the permafrost releasing methane is troubling:
    No easy answers to that. But the faster we drastically curtail greenhouse gas release the better. We can also insure that the oil and gas in are not leaking a lot of methane with proper oversight and fines when necessary.

  13. Don’t eat the methane catastrophe.
    Earth has been hotter before at least regionally, we have had trees growing places there trees can not grow today in Norway 5-6000 years ago.
    And that methane catastrophe would been even larger at the end of the ice age.
    if we look at geological time scales Earth has been an actual jungle planet for millions of years here continent placement and ocean currents is critical however.

    And no the environmentalists are not serious in that this is an existential crisis, it they was they would demand more nuclear plants and brace the meltdowns rater than protest against wind power plants because they are noisy and kill birds.

  14. Fit healthy humans can survive a 135 degrees F, though many people are not that fit. And I doubt even fit healthy people could handle exposure to that several days in a row. A lot of animals can’t sweat and have very limited cooling ability. 150 will just plain cook you. 134 was the hottest recorded and trusted. That was in death valley. I have been there a few times. I think it was 116 or 117 once when I was there, but I have been far less comfortable at 90 with humidity. But I have no doubt 150 would take me out even with low humidity.
    I don’t think 150 is implausible. Average temps don’t have to climb incredibly high necessarily to get some very very hot days. 150 will probably cook many of the plants too.
    Cows start to experience heat stress at 80. 120-130 will probably kill them. A 125 day in ranch country could kill a lot of cattle. Chickens can handle more heat than we can. 145 will probably take them out. Pigs die when their core temp reaches 109.4 They are already stressed at 77. So 120 will probably kill them. Potbellies can probably take more because they are smaller and come from a hotter climate…probably why they are smaller.

  15. And “natural” CO2 emissions are around 775 gigatonnes per year…
    BTW, we can also see the absorption is going well too:
    Satellites are recording evidences of a seriously greening planet.
    We are doomed!

  16. To be honest, I don’t know. The Medieval Warm Period was at least as warm climate-wise as today, if not somewhat warmer by a half or full degree or so. (THink about that! No ‘A’ in the ‘GW’ of the MWP)

    Civilization positively flourished. The Renaissance bloomed. The beginnings of the scientific-and-industrial revolutions got started.  

    One can look back at the deeper history, and a universally true theorem shows up… PRECEDING and THRU the periods of great civilizational advance, are warm periods at least as warm as the very-current era.  

    The declines in civilization are all marked by the opposite: short-to-long periods of extended global cooling.  

    So to answer you straight up: I do not think moderate global warming is a bad thing at all. Key word is MODERATE.  I also don’t think that the hue-and-cry of all those hucksters pitching DOOM AND PESTILENCE ‘cuz of a bit of sustained warming are worth twaddle. The peoples of Earth have had to deal with gloom-and-doom sayers essentially forever. in some ways, they are WORSE than the causal ‘doom’ they decry.  

    So, finding a way to mitigate especially the GROWTH of CO₂ emissions, seems prudent and timely. Finding a way to wean civilization of its dependency on fossil fuels, also seems prudent, and timely. Doing so by the day-after-tomorrow seems both hubristic and nigh impossible. Doing so gradually, inexorably, thru taxation and law, seems neither folly nor mendacious. 

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  17. According to IPCC’s ratio of C14/C12 it has been calculated that the human part in CO2 atmospheric content is just under 4%, or just north of 15 ppm out of 400 ppm for recent CO2 concentration.
    CO2 represents 0.04% (400 ppm) of the atmosphere and contributes only to 7% of the “greenhouse effect”. Most of this effect (76%) is due to water vapor.
    Besides, the infamous “climate sensitivity” for a doubling of CO2 concentration was estimated to be north of 4°C with some estimates around 10°C (the famous “tipping point” that had all this scare started). Recently, estimates have been revised under 2°C and are slowly crawling to 1°C, if not below.
    Also, remember to take IPCC’s numbers with a grain of salt when it comes to anthropic CO2 since they choose to use insane persistence times for this gaz in the atmosphere (200 years instead of the overwhelming 2-5 years observed by tens of studies).
    I say: blame the degazing of the oceans due to the Medieval Warm period and criminal insects, especially those nasty termites… and the bacteria too.
    In matter of CO2 release we are amateurs.
    Check for links to the relevant papers.

  18. Yes, the report mentions ‘Global energy-related CO2 emissions’ of 33 gigatonnes.
    I find the term energy generation rather vague and general, is it power plants?, or also traffic? Total global human-caused CO2 emissions are definitely higher: I read in various sources that total fossil fuel related CO2 emissions were about 38 gigatonnes last year, plus about 5 gigatonnes from land use change (i.e. deforestation, burning, etc.), making the total about 43 gigatonnes, and still increasing…

  19. The figures I saw reported ~10% decrease in coal imports, 2019 vs 2018. That’s pretty huge, however it came about.

  20. They still have ten RBMK reactors in service. They’ve put in a few changes, so a repeat of Chernobyl is vanishingly unlikely. I’d far rather have one of those upwind of me than a lignite burner. The UK is the only other place with a bunch of graphite moderated reactors, and the graphite warping in those is likely to bring about the retirement of the Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors over the next ten years. The Russians, though, have been working on techniques to repair the graphite, and they have also successfully annealed light water reactor pressure vessels to take out the stresses from neutron embrittlement. In my book, retiring a reactor early is as much a crime as delay in building a new one.

  21. CO2 growth can and likely still is climbing at a high rate. We need significant decline in CO2 output. And it is looking like we will need geoengineering countermeasures.
    Methane is my current concern. The bit of heating we have seen from CO2 appears to be releasing methane from the permafrost and lakes. If it starts to become released from the oceans (melting methyl hydrates), things could get quite serious. I don’t think even that would be runaway…but it would be certain to be a major extinction event. I’d hate to see all the megafauna except cows, pigs, dogs, sheep and humans disappear. All it takes is one 150F day and bye bye herd. If that happens in enough places, it will mostly be the animals that can find a hole in the ground or get in a deep lake that will survive. Most ranchers don’t even have trees on their property because cows rest under them and then a lightening strike hitting the tree can kill the cows. Even most ocean creatures are not safe. Red tide, and other bacterial blooms can suffocate and poison.
    None of the US Presidential candidates are serious about building a lot of nuclear power. But that is what we need. Of the 50 nuclear power plants under construction, only one is in the US. Even Yang was not serious enough. We don’t need just a few experiments. We need to start building a couple dozen large reactors immediately. We do need the experimental reactors, but we are silly to wait decades to get going on building big grid reactors.

  22. I think he left that for us. Like a coloring book.
    International face-saving is certainly in play.
    Though, I do buy that the US and some Europeans have reduced emissions. Solar and wind do generate something other than just fried and hacked birds. Especially the wind. And wind has passed hydro in the US. Lots of Texas getting dotted with windmills.
    Nuclear is probably still going forward a little. Japan has restarted some reactors. Of course, Germany is still out of its collective beer and sausage eating mind:
    There are 50 reactors under construction. Not sure how fast they retire them, but this probably net gain:
    Russia is extending licenses like everyone else…though I am not sure it is brilliant in the case of the Russian ones. The newer designs are probably OK, the old ones? I just hope all the ones like Chernobyl have been retired.

  23. We may be able to keep the little momentum we had last year in zero emissions energy generation growth as renewable energy is becoming cheaper than all kinds of fossil fuels and the big momentum in transportation electrification. Economic growth is not going to accelerate again in this cycle. If this is the case, CO2 levels have already peaked.

  24. Makes no difference to the importance of O’Neill’s plans being prosecuted with all vigor. there are many independently sufficient reasons to do so, C being only one.

  25. The chart is only for “energy related” CO2 – presumably that excludes transport.

    “Rest of world” did increase CO2 in the chart, and that part includes China – but the ‘developed’ nations have been reducing coal use quite a bit, including Japan bringing their reactors back on line.

  26. PS…

    Legerdemain → chicanery → trickery → pull wool over observer’s eyes.
    Hither, thither, yon → old saying for “all over the place

    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

  27. So, Brian — trust, I’m not trying to argue, but — at some basic level, don’t you sort o question the reported CO₂ stasis? I sure do.

    As a for-instance, how about the fact that millions-upon-millions more cars were made and sold into the Asian, Americas, European, Oceania and African markets? Its not like those cars, trucks, pickups and busses are all sitting in parking lots being washed every few weeks to show off.  

    Likewise, you and I know full well that some of the numbers that come out of some of the countries are pölïtically “corrected”, and with a surprising amount of cheek, to show how countries that otherwise would garner a lot of negative face, manage not to. It just takes centralizing the numbers-collection process without a single watchdog that’s independent and credible to call out the legerdemain.  

    Satellite photos (I’ll find the site) show the Chinese are actually consuming quite a bit more coal, today, than they were 3 years ago. Quite a bit more. This coincides with large power and process heat plant build-outs. But mostly , a whole lot more trains comporting the black stuff hither, thither and yon. Yet, their numbers decline. Oh… and we’re to believe that?

    Same goes for that matter, for Europe’s “decline”. It ain’t a decline when one shuts down power plants then imports power from non-reliable-reporting-neighbors, is it?

    Or to put it differently… The Moana Loa CO₂ growth numbers don’t lie.

    ⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
    ⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

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