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HE EMISSION of greenhouse gases has been rising for two years in a row, reversing efforts based on the Paris Agreement to control the rise in global temperatures and avert the impact of climate change.
As world leaders gather at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, to find solutions, the International Energy Agency (IEA) on Tuesday released a preliminary outlook for this year’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. It worryingly indicates that there has been a 0.5 per cent rise in global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions this year compared to previous years.
The IEA report points out that energy-related CO2 emissions from wealthy countries in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions has grown this year due to a higher consumption of oil and natural gas.
Not only are rich nations releasing more greenhouse gases this year, the IEA also says that emerging economies will emit more CO2, as the demand for fossil fuel is rising in line with the large numbers of coal-fired power plants being built.
Even though the increase in CO2 emissions is small compared to last year, 2018 will be the second year in a row to witness an increasing trend of greenhouse gases – a great setback for the mission to achieve climate-change stabilisation as per the Paris Agreement.
“Our data shows that despite a strong growth in solar and wind energy, emissions have started to rise again in advanced economies, highlighting the need for deploying technologies for energy efficiency,” Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director, said.
More work needed
“This turnaround should be another warning to governments as they meet in Katowice this week. Increased efforts are needed to encourage more renewables, greater energy efficiency, more nuclear and more innovation for technologies such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage and hydrogen, for instance.”
Emissions in Thailand have also been higher this year, with the energy sector having released 196.5 tonnes of CO2 in the first nine months of this year, marking a 0.98 per cent increase compared to the same period last year, the Energy Policy and Planning Office (EPPO) said.
However, EPPO said that even though the power-generation sector is the largest CO2 producer, it is the only sector that is releasing a lower amount of greenhouse gases due to an increase in renewable energy, though the emission trend in other sectors is rising.
Pledge met so far
Meanwhile, Raweewon Bhuridej, secretary-general of the Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning Office, said this increase in emissions will not affect Thailand’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Thailand has pledged to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 to 25 per cent by 2030 from the estimated emission rate in a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario.
“Since Thailand is a developing country, we do not have to lower our emission rate as significantly as wealthy nations, who ought to cut down their net CO2 emission rate every year,” Raweewon said.
She added that Thailand has already performed well as per standards set for developing countries. In 2016, Thailand successfully cut its emissions by 45.72 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, which is approximately 12 per cent below the estimated rate in a BAU scenario.
Raweewon pointed out that thanks to this positive reduction effort, Thailand has already achieved its Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action, in which the country pledged to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 7 to 20 per cent within 2020.
“However, despite us having done great work in reducing emissions in Thailand’s energy sector, there is still room for improvement in order to transform the country into a low-carbon society,” she said. “For instance, the government is investing in a mass transportation network so as to encourage people to use public transport instead of driving, in a move to lower emissions in the transportation and logistics sector.”