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Global carbon dioxide emissions stayed flat in 2019, despite growing economy

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  • The globe emitted about 33 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from energy uses in 2019.
  • The United States recorded the largest emissions decline on a country basis.
  • U.S. emissions are now down by almost 1 gigaton from their peak in 2000.

Some rare good news from the climate change front.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide in 2019 were level with those of 2018, according to a report released Tuesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Overall,  33 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide were emitted worldwide from energy usage in 2019, even as the world economy expanded by nearly 3%. That was about the same level as in 2018.

The agency attributed the stoppage to “declining emissions from electricity generation in advanced economies, thanks to the expanding role of renewable sources (mainly wind and solar), fuel switching from coal to natural gas and higher nuclear power generation.”

The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas releases “greenhouse” gases such as carbon dioxide and methane into Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. The emissions have caused the planet’s temperatures to rise to levels that cannot be explained by natural factors, scientists report.