An exciting new study shows that efforts to cut CO2 and tackle climate change in developed countries including the UK and US are beginning to pay off.
Eighteen countries so far have demonstrated how concerted policies and action on energy efficiency, renewables, and climate targets can work.
The study from the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia (UEA) suggests that policies supporting renewable energy and energy efficiency are helping to reduce emissions in 18 developed economies. The group of countries, which includes the UK, US, France and Germany, represents 28% of global emissions.
The research team analyzed the reasons behind changes in CO2 emissions in countries where emissions declined significantly between 2005 and 2015. The findings, published in Nature Climate Change, show that the fall in CO2 emissions was mainly due to renewable energy replacing fossil fuels and to decreasing energy use.
Not surprisingly, countries where CO2 emissions decreased the most were those with the largest number of energy and climate policies in place.
The researchers compared countries with declining emissions with countries where emissions increased. They found that policies encouraging energy efficiency were linked to cuts in emissions across all countries.
They also found that policies which encouraged renewable energy were linked to cuts in emissions, but mostly in developed economies with decreasing emissions only, not elsewhere.
The data suggests that efforts to reduce emissions are underway in many countries, but these efforts need to be expanded and enhanced to limit climate change to well below 2°C of warming, in line with the Paris Agreement.
The authors argue that “untangling” the reasons underlying recent changes in emissions is critical to guide efforts to tackle climate change.
“Our findings suggest that polices to tackle climate change are helping to decrease emissions in many countries. This is good news, but this is just the start,” said lead researcher Prof Corinne Le Quéré of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA.
“There is a long way to go to cut global emissions down to near zero, which is what is needed to stop climate change. Deploying renewable energy worldwide is a good step but by itself it is not enough, fossil fuels also have to be phased out.”
Dr Charlie Wilson, also from the university, said: “New scientific research on climate change tends to ring the alarm bells ever more loudly. Our findings add a thin sliver of hope. It is possible for countries to peak and then decline their emissions year in, year out.
(Source: University of East Anglia)
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