Recession Yields Rare Drop in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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smokestacksGlobal emissions of carbon dioxide will drop 3 percent in 2009, including a 5.9 percent decrease in the United States, as a result of the economic recession, according to energy forecasts.

A decrease in industrial activity accounts for three-quarters of the global emissions decline, the International Energy Agency reported at United Nations climate talks in Bangkok. The rest of the decline is the result of nations switching to renewable energy sources and nuclear power.

In the U.S., coal demand will likely drop 9 percent this year as electricity demand slips and more states switch to natural gas in the face of stiffer government oversight of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Economic recovery would likely reverse the trend, and the agency predicts a 1.1 percent increase in CO2 emissions in 2010.

Fatih Birol, chief economist for the International Energy Agency, said the rare drop in greenhouse gas emissions gives global leaders a chance to shift to cleaner energy generation. “Because of the financial crisis, many industries have the chance to move away from unsustainable power,” he said.

Article appearing courtesy of Yale Environment 360.

[photo credit: Flickr]

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