Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power sector fell by 2 per cent last year, the biggest fall since at least 1990, owing to reduced coal usage in Europe and the United States, a study showed on Monday.
Coal-fired power generation fell by 3 per cent globally, also the largest fall since 1990, research by independent climate think tank Ember showed. The drop in Europe was 24 per cent, driven by a switch to renewables, while U.S. coal-fired generation was down 16 per cent because of more competitive gas.
However, China bucked the trend with a rise as it became responsible for half of global coal-fired power generation.
Overall, the decline in coal use last year and shift towards renewables was helped by factors such as cheap gas, nuclear plant restarts in Japan and South Korea and slowing electricity demand, the report said.
Coal generation needs to fall by 11 per cent a year to keep within a warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“The global decline of coal and power sector emissions is good news for the climate, but governments have to dramatically accelerate the electricity transition so that global coal generation collapses throughout the 2020s,” said Dave Jones, lead author of the report and electricity analyst at Ember.
“To switch from coal into gas is just swapping one fossil fuel for another,” he added.