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Fossil fuels, low-carbon plans, in tug-of-war

China's economy may have to slow down to meet low-carbon ambitions, report finds.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Renewable energy generation up for some parts of the global economy, though a reports finds the Chinese economy might need to slow down to meet its low-carbon ambitions. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Renewable energy generation up for some parts of the global economy, though a reports finds the Chinese economy might need to slow down to meet its low-carbon ambitions. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

PARIS, July 6 (UPI) -- Conventional energy output from OECD members is growing at a time when, for China to reach its carbon ambitions, its economy will need to slow, reports find.

A report from the International Energy Agency finds energy production from all 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is at its highest level since the group was founded in 1974. Exports increased, while net imports declined to their lowest level since 1995.

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In terms of production, the United States produced 12 percent more oil and 5 percent more natural gas since 2013, while Canadian oil production for last year was up 9 percent year-on-year. In Australia, coal production increased 9 percent, which combined for an overall 3 percent gain in production in conventional energy reserves from 2013 for member states, the IEA found.

An increase in crude oil production from North America pushed global energy markets heavily toward the supply side, sending crude oil prices to historic lows. For energy companies, that led to significant staff reductions and lower spending on oil and gas exploration.

Texas, the No. 1 oil producer in the United States, said one of the major economic concerns for the state was the low price of oil.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year found carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, from the combustion of fossil fuels accounted for 78 percent of the total emissions increase from 1970 to 2010. The IEA in early 2015 said investments in renewable energy, meanwhile, was weak, but noted in its latest report that OECD generation of renewable energy made up 22 percent of all the power output from its members last year, the highest since 1975.

In a separate report, research group Wood Mackenzie finds that while China may be working to advance a low-carbon economy, the economy itself may need to slow to match ambitions.

Wood Mackenzie said China is on pace to meet its carbon reduction goals for 2030 as of now, but targets for lowered coal and higher natural gas use are ambitious.

"For China to cap its emissions by 2030 the country will still require a further reduction in carbon intensity or a slowdown in economic growth to roughly 4.5 percent annually," its report found.

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