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Move to renewable energy halts rise in greenhouse gas emissions

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has put out preliminary emissions data for 2015, and there is good news: greenhouse gas emissions are level for the second year running. The reasons for this welcome trend are that the Chinese and Americans are using less coal and the entire world is moving towards renewable energy solutions.

Move to renewable energy halts rise in greenhouse gas emissions

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Lower emissions don’t mean reduced growth

One of the important points about this is that it shows that lower emissions can go hand in hand with growing economies. About 90 per cent of new electricity generation in 2015 came from renewable sources.

China and the US produce the most greenhouse gas emissions. In the US, they’re switching from coal to natural gas, while in China, coal use has dropped in both of the last two years. It isn’t all good news, though, because other Asian economies and the Middle East increased their emissions. However, the EU’s share of renewable energy has jumped from 14.3 per cent in 2012 to 15 per cent in 2013. The use of solar must take its share of the credit.

Can solar work in Northern Ireland?

While the news will be welcomed in Northern Ireland, one of the questions here is whether it is worth putting in solar panels given our variable climate. This query demonstrates a basic misunderstanding about solar panels. They don’t need direct sunshine; they need daylight. The NI Direct government website has excellent information on solar panels in Northern Ireland, what to consider before installing them and how to weigh up whether they’d work for your household. Installers from Northern Ireland such as http://www.solarpanelni.com/ understand the particular weather patterns and regulatory environment of this part of the country.

Of course, while we can celebrate a leveling-off in the growth of emissions, we really need to see greenhouse gases decline. Temperatures appear to be increasing, and at a Paris summit recently, world leaders decided to attempt to limit global warming to just 1.5 degrees C. This is going to require a massive effort on two fronts. The first is reducing energy usage, and the second is investing in renewable energy use. Ban Ki-moon, the head of the UN, is asking leaders who come to the event to bring new commitments to accelerating climate action by the year 2020.

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