PARIS,, (Pakistan Point News - 03rd Nov, 2016 ) - Beyond the broad political consensus behind the Paris Agreement, there are mixed signals on how fast the world is pivoting towards the low-carbon economy needed to beat back the threat of global warming. Here is an overview of positive and negative signs: POSITIVE ======== - Energy emissions - ==================== Emissions by the energy sector, which comprise two-thirds of global greenhouse-gas output, showed no increase for a second straight year in 2015.
This was despite the world economy expanding three percent -- a contrast which confirms that growth and energy, once intertwined, are no longer necessarily linked. - Renewable record - ===================== With $286 billion (258 billion euros) invested and 153 new gigawatts worth of capacity installed, 2015 was a record year for renewable energy, notably in emerging economies. Renewables now represent 15 percent of energy production and 23 percent of electricity output.
- Cheaper solar - ================= Between 2009 and 2015 the cost of solar power fell by 80 percent, making it competitive against gas and coal in some countries including Chile, the United Arab Emirates and India. A plant in Abu Dhabi holds the record for the cheapest average solar megawatt-hour, about $23. - Efficiency up - ================= According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy intensity -- the energy consumed for every unit of GDP -- is falling year on year (-1.
8 percent in 2015), a consequence of the 221 billion euros invested in energy efficiency last year. - Obama cans Keystone - ======================= The Keystone XL pipeline between Canada and United States was blocked last year by US President Barack Obama's administration on grounds it would hinder the fight against climate change. - Ending HFCs - =============== The world community agreed in mid-October to progressively eliminate so-called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), gases widely used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
HFCs stoke climate change, as they are super-efficient at trapping heat in Earth's atmosphere. - Carbon tax - ============== Carbon taxation and pricing schemes, already in use in Europe and California among other places, are spreading. Canada has announced a minimum price of Can$10 (US$7.63) per tonne of carbon pollution in 2018 and China, after provincial experiments, is set to launch a national market next year. According to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), 29 percent of the world's biggest listed companies use internal carbon prices to evaluate their investments.
- 100% renewable - ================== A growing number of cities are launching plans to become 100 percent renewable energy reliant. Barcelona focuses on solar power and heating while Frankfurt has a vast energy efficiency programme. San Francisco, San Diego, Fukushima, Copenhagen and Munich are among countries moving in a similar direction. Companies like Apple or Ikea have made commitments, while Google has invested more than a billion euros in wind, solar and biomass (plant and animal waste) energy.
- Green funding - ================= Green bonds to finance environmental projects are exploding: from $42 billion last year to an estimated $80 billion in 2016, according to the Moody's ratings agency. But it still represents less than 0.5 percent of the global debt market. France will launch the first green sovereign bond next year. NEGATIVE ======== - Too much coal - ================= Coal plants with a capacity to produce 350 gigawatts of electricity are under construction worldwide, with a further 930 gigawatts in the pipeline, according to the CoalSwarm research group.
Such new fossil fuel build is incompatible with the aim of limiting global warming to under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels. - Subsidies - ============= Annual subsidies to the fossil energy industry are flourshing, exceeding $500 billion in 2010, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and IEA. - Arctic threat - ================== While some companies have stopped prospecting for oil in the Arctic due to the collapse in crude prices, Norway gave out licences to 13 companies in May.
- Trudeau backs gas - ====================== Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given the green light for a Can$1.3 billion expansion of natural gas pipelines in Alberta province, the second such project approved since he took office. - Aircraft emissions - ======================= An international agreement struck in October aims to cap air transport emissions, but starting only in 2021 and by measures to compensate for emissions rather than actively cutting them. - Steel, shipping lag - ======================== The steel sector, which produces seven percent of global emissions, has not cut its greenhouse gas output in 10 years and the shipping industry, which produces 2.8 percent, has no plans to do so.