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Dec 07, 2015 12:36 PM EST

Paris Climate Change Meetings: Reduced Coal Usage, Renewable Energy Leading to Stall in CO2 Emissions


Reduction of coal usage and a larger emphasis on renewable energy seems to finally be paying off, as scientists project the world's CO2 emissions are expected to level off next year, or even decline.

According to BBC News, the new study predicts the first stall or dip in global carbon dioxide emissions in the midst of economic growth. The researchers published their work in the journal Nature Climate Change and presented their findings at the COP21 meetings in Paris.

"In 2014, global CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels grew by just 0.6 percent," study lead author Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and at the Precourt Institute for Energy, said in a press release. "This year we expect total emissions to flatten or drop slightly, despite strong growth in gross domestic product worldwide.

"The most promising finding in our report is the coupling of lower carbon emissions with a strong economic growth of more than 3 percent," he said. "But even if we reach peak global emissions within a decade or two, we'll still be emitting massive amounts of CO2 from burning fossil fuels."

The researchers singled out China for reducing its usage of coal, since the nation accounted for 27 percent of the world's coal consumption. With many studies indicating climate change may be past the point of no return, the world can still take strides to limit the damage.

"As the emerging economies are mostly based on coal, as they grow we are expecting a restart in the emissions," study co-author Corinne Le Quere, of the University of East Anglia, told BBC News. "And in the industrial economies like in the UK, where emissions are going down, the decrease is relatively modest, mostly 1-2%. We would be looking for a much faster decrease than that to offset the growth in the developing countries."

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