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Environment

CO2 emissions of China and U.S. fell in 2016

by Jeff Johnson, special to C&EN
March 27, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 13

Carbon dioxide emissions in China and the U.S., the world’s two largest emitters and energy users, fell in 2016 while these countries experienced economic gains, according to the International Energy Agency. Worldwide, CO2 emissions were flat for the third straight year despite an overall economic growth rate of 3.1%, IEA says, signaling a decoupling of emissions from economic activity. A report from IEA attributes the decline to renewable power generation, switches from coal to less-polluting natural gas, technology improvements, and energy efficiency. The U.S. economy grew by 1.6% last year, yet the nation showed a CO2 decline of 3%. U.S. carbon emissions last year were the lowest since 1992, despite economic growth of 80% between 1992 and 2016. China’s emissions fell by 1% last year while its economy expanded by 6.7%. IEA attributes the greenhouse gas reduction in China to less coal use and more renewables, nuclear, and natural gas. However positive the news, IEA says that to curb global warming’s strongest impacts, the world needs consistent, transparent, and predictable international policies that will result in emissions reductions greater than market forces are able to achieve.

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