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Global Fossil Fuel Emissions Up 0.6% In 2019

February 6, 2020

By Paul Homewood


h/t Dennis Ambler

[Note that this article was written in December 2019]


After increasing at the fastest rate for seven years in 2018, global CO2 emissions are set to rise much more slowly this year – but will, nevertheless, reach another record high.

Emissions from fossil fuel and industry (FF&I) are expected to reach 36.81bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) in 2019, up by only 0.24GtCO2 (0.6%) from 2018 levels, according to the latest estimates from the Global Carbon Project (GCP).

The data is being published in Earth System Science Data Discussions, Environmental Research Letters and Nature Climate Change to coincide with the UN’s COP25 climate summit in Madrid, Spain.

The growth of global emissions in 2019 was almost entirely due to China, which increased its CO2 output by 0.26GtCO2. The rest of the world actually reduced its emissions by -0.02GtCO2, thanks to falling coal use in the US and Europe, as well as much more modest increases in India and the rest of the world, compared to previous years.

The GCP researchers say that “a further rise in emissions in 2020 is likely” as global consumption of natural gas is “surging”, oil use continues to increase and, overall, energy demand rises.

Despite the rapid rise and falling costs of renewables in many parts of the world, the majority of increases in energy demand continue to be met by fossil fuels. For example, gas met around two-fifths of the increase in demand in 2018, against just a quarter coming from renewables.

Overall, human-caused CO2 emissions, including those from FF&I and land use, are projected to increase by 1.3% in 2019. This is driven by a 0.29GtCO2 (5%) increase in land-use emissions – including deforestation –  which is the fastest rate in five years. While land use only represents around 14% of total 2019 emissions, it will contribute more than half the increase in emissions in 2019.

While more modest than in recent years, the increase in emissions in 2019 puts the world even further away from meeting its climate change goals under the Paris Agreement.




Zeke Hausfather, who wrote this piece, makes the same mistake as most of us do (me included!), in concentrating on the minutiae of small increases in emissions.

Some years the number is small, and sometimes bigger. But the real significance, for those interested in such matters, is the absolute level of emissions. Quite simply there is no sign at all of total global emissions falling substantially, never mind being eliminated totally.

Given that global carbon dioxide emissions are now 14% higher than when the abortive Copenhagen summit was held in 2009, and when we were told we had ten years to save the planet, the odd half a percent change up or down is utterly irrelevant.

And the reason is perfectly clear – the world needs fossil fuels, for the simple reason that nothing else can replace them.

  1. Graeme No.3 permalink
    February 6, 2020 10:13 am

    You might have noticed we have had some fires in Australia. Despite the claims of the EU burning wood down here releases CO2. So with big fires every few years (2019, 2009, 1983, 1975 etc.) it should be easy to see the effect of CO2 on the temperature. I leave it to others to waste their time trying to find it.

    • February 6, 2020 2:57 pm

      Anything that doesn’t agree with climate models must be *wrong* – QED😉

  2. JimW permalink
    February 6, 2020 10:33 am

    Roy Spencer has just produced a paper where he postulates that the earth’s absorption of CO2 is 4 times that currently used in IPCC models. He has produced some graphs showing net atmospheric CO2 levels to 2100 under the various IPCC scenarios. Even the most extreme scenario would never produce a doubling of CO2. What is of some concern is that under the most likely scenario, ie the one nearest to actual outcome to date, the level of atmospheric CO2 would drop from today’s levels rather quickly.

    • chaswarnertoo permalink
      February 6, 2020 2:31 pm

      Yep. Slightly worrying. We need more bushfires or to get the chainsaws out before the plants starve us…

  3. Teaef permalink
    February 6, 2020 12:02 pm

    UK National Grid Status 11:55 06/02: Wind 4.5% Coal 6.8% Hmmmmm!

    • chaswarnertoo permalink
      February 6, 2020 2:00 pm

      Wind down to 3.2 % now. Good job we didn’t spend billions on it……..

      • Teaef permalink
        February 6, 2020 3:20 pm

        2.1% now, useless!

  4. john cooknell permalink
    February 6, 2020 12:31 pm

    What is a fossil fuel? don’t you mean re-cycled hydrocarbons?

    Life just re-cycled what was here already.

  5. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 6, 2020 12:47 pm

    I am struck by the paradox that the 37GtCO2 emissions is an estimate (best guess?) But that the ‘tipping point’ of 1.5deg C in the (meaningless) GAT is a precisely modelled number. (Although we know it was a number plucked from the air by the U.N. for political purposes.)

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 6, 2020 3:53 pm

      It’s fake science, Harry.

      ‘Emissions Up 0.6%’ is fake. They use decimal points to show they have a sense of humor. Fake precision fallacy – Using implausibly precise statistics to give the appearance of truth and certainty.

      We cannot measure human emissions.

      We cannot measure natural emissions.

      Until 1979, we couldn’t measure global air temperature.

      We still can’t measure ocean temperature.

      It’s all fake. Fake. Fake.

      • Mack permalink
        February 6, 2020 9:14 pm

        ‘They use decimal points to show….’ that they think they are smart and that the great unwashed are stupid. It is we skeptics who have a sense of humour. We have to. As you say, Gamecock, it’s all fake science. There’s not a scientist on earth who can differentiate between natural and anthropogenic emissions with any precision. Ditto, a global or ocean mean temperature. It’s still all guesswork.

  6. Broadlands permalink
    February 6, 2020 1:44 pm

    “Emissions from fossil fuel and industry (FF&I) are expected to reach 36.81bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) in 2019, up by only 0.24GtCO2 (0.6%) from 2018 levels…”

    How can it be expected to remove that amount by 2050? That’s a bit more than one bn tonnes a year. Lowering emissions of CO2 does not reduce the CO2 already in the atmosphere. And, as noted there is nothing that can replace fossil fuels, especially in transportation. When will these policy-makers wake up?

  7. February 6, 2020 1:46 pm

    “The growth of global emissions in 2019 was almost entirely due to China, which increased its CO2 output by 0.26GtCO2.”

    China is a non-Annex country and under Kyoto Protocol / UNFCCC, neither China nor India has any emission reduction obligation. If anyone wants to whine about that the whining is best directed at the UN and their UNEP, UNFCCC, IPCC, and WMO.

  8. Adamsson66 permalink
    February 6, 2020 2:23 pm

    Great news the world economy is growing

  9. Coeur de Lion permalink
    February 6, 2020 2:33 pm

    Off thread but as I write wind is producing 2% of our electricity coal 6%. I await the BBC news item.

    • Teaef permalink
      February 6, 2020 3:21 pm

      They only ever report good news about windmills

      • Luc Ozade permalink
        February 6, 2020 4:32 pm

        WHAT good news?? (lol)

    • Bloke down the pub permalink
      February 6, 2020 6:00 pm

      In a twitter thread about EVs yesterday, the claim was made that ‘Even on the UK’s grid today the carbon cost per mile is less for an battery vehicle than a diesel’. Does anyone know of a good source to confirm/ disprove this claim?

      • dave permalink
        February 7, 2020 1:04 pm

        That depends on the electrical-generation method used by the power station.
        if the method is based on wind, or solar, or nuclear, or hydro, the claim will be true. If the method is to burn natural gas, the ‘carbon costs’ will be similar. If the method is to burn wood chips or coal, the claim will be untrue.

        I saw all these calculated, somewhere, once; but I no longer remember the link.

        One fact is, indeed, that only 20% of the heat energy produced in a diesel engine is actually available for driving the vehicle, while 80% of the electrical energy in a battery is available for movement.

        So, other things being equal, …

        (which they are not!)

      • Iain Reid permalink
        February 8, 2020 7:05 am

        I believe they are looking at it wrongly. As EVs add to grid load only dispatch able power can meet the extra demand. So any contribution from renewables and nuclear do not supply them as they are already at maximum.
        The fallacy of saying the battery provides 80% ignores that it is the power station is the source of power not the battery.. the best run at about 60% efficient, then there are transmission, distribution, rectification (to charge the battery ) losses then there is the further ,20% loss to actually power the car

      • Bloke down the pub permalink
        February 8, 2020 10:15 am

        Ian, that’s about how I see it. Just those darned alarmists on twitter wanted sources of info to back up the claim. I don’t know where they got that idea from.

      • dave permalink
        February 8, 2020 2:41 pm

        ‘Bloke down the pub’ writes:

        “…alarmists on twitter wanted sources of info…”

        I doubt they really wanted anything. I suspect garden paths and trolls.

        “…where they got that idea from…”

        Perhaps, from the legitimate fact that the 33.7 KWH of calorific value of a gallon of petrol can be replaced in a vehicle by about 10 KWH of electrical energy, out of the socket in the living room. If that were all there was to it, it would make eminent sense to pour the gallon of petrol into the boiler in the electric power station, instead of into the car. But people do not do that, as a rule, do they? And that is because, most emphatically, there are many other legitimate facts, and laws of nature, to take account of first.

  10. NeilC permalink
    February 6, 2020 4:51 pm

    At 1635 demand is 41.5GW; 63.0% fossil fuels, 21.3% other (Nuclear 14.0% Biomass 5.5%), Interconnectors 9.2% and renewable (ha ha) energy just 6.6%.

    Now just imagine all those EV’s coming back from work to be recharged, oh what a joke.

    • Robin Guenier permalink
      February 6, 2020 5:31 pm

      At 17.30 (rush hour) it’s 7% coal, 55% CCGT, 3% wind and 0% solar.

  11. David permalink
    February 6, 2020 5:39 pm

    Unless we have a complete turn around on government policy and public opinion our motor industry will collapse, causing a massive slump. The electricity system will stop working along with most other things and we will be the only country in the world in such a sorry state.

    • Robin Guenier permalink
      February 6, 2020 5:54 pm

      Possibly joined by France, Spain and Germany?

      The reality is that the ‘climate emergency’ is a Western obsession: the countries where scientists, the media, academia and leading politicians are concerned about it are essentially all in Western Europe, North America and Australasia. As Johnson will soon find out, most of the world (the source of 75 percent of emissions – 88 percent if the US is included) either doesn’t care or doesn’t see the issue as a priority.

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 6, 2020 6:32 pm

      But, dammit, David, you can feel great about cutting your 0.04% of global CO2 emissions. As you stir the ashes in your Neolithic hut.

  12. Robin Guenier permalink
    February 6, 2020 5:44 pm

    Copenhagen summit …when we were told we had ten years to save the planet

    Not according to James Hansen who said ‘Obama had only four years to save the world‘ and the WWF which made it five years or hit a ‘point of no return‘.

  13. Athelstan. permalink
    February 7, 2020 12:27 am

    I lerve, that wee bit CO2 man made or, 95% earth made, bring it on!

    I lerve plants and plants lerve CO2!

    CO2 gives me and the rest of humanity: LIFE.

    CO2, don’t knock it.

  14. Michael Adams permalink
    February 7, 2020 10:49 am

    `Strong winds predicted this weekend. Be interesting to see how much electricity will be produced under those circumstances. My guess is zero.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      February 7, 2020 1:29 pm

      Seemed pretty healthy output during the last storm – I think they’ve got better at feathering them with computers or whatever, so they can keep running in high winds.

      Not sure what the MO is doing with the CET, seems the bloke that does it is on holiday or there has been some sort of mess up or they are trying to make January a record.

      • Michael Adams permalink
        February 7, 2020 6:47 pm

        55mph seems to be the accepted top wind speed turbines can cope with.

        Forecast this weekend is higher than that in some areas and of course there will always be gusts. Would those that monitor such things please keep us up to date.

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        February 7, 2020 6:57 pm

        Rampion windmill sea industrial complex output is probably the one to watch, in the amber area for up to 80mph.

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