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Industries mixed on Paris climate agreement

Global voice united on need to find ways to arrest global warming.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Renewable energy group said Paris climate agreement is a sign of the understanding of the necessity to shift the global energy mix to low-carbon solutions. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Renewable energy group said Paris climate agreement is a sign of the understanding of the necessity to shift the global energy mix to low-carbon solutions. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

PARIS, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- A global renewable energy group said the Paris agreement on climate opened the door for energy transition, though the oil sector said it too has a role.

An agreement signed by 195 national leaders during the weekend called for all parties to make strides to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level necessary to curb global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

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Under the terms of the agreement, wealthier nationals are expected to help finance the shift to a low-carbon economy from poor developing nations. Adnan Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, said the agreement in Paris sends a strong signal on the importance of changing the global energy mix.

"The innovative approach of the conference incorporated all of the ingredients for a positive outcome, setting the stage for decisive action moving forward," he said in a statement. "The agreement establishes long-term vision for the deep reduction of global emissions and the imperative of decarbonizing energy."

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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. Early this year, the International Energy Agency said investments in renewable energy, meanwhile, was weak, but noted clean energy from members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development made up 22 percent of all the power output from its members last year, the highest since 1975.

The American Petroleum Institute, which represents the U.S. fossil fuels industry, said the private sector was already making strides in cutting greenhouse gas emissions on its own.

"Our success is driven, not by government mandate or legislative fiat, but through innovation, investment and entrepreneurial spirit," API President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Gerard said in an emailed statement.

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A November report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration found emissions of CO2 was steady from 2004-07, declined through 2012 and then started to gradually increase. Emissions from coal-powered plants have declined since 2008, though emissions tied to natural gas have moved up since then.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the Paris agreement was "the best chance" to arrest global warming. For environmental advocacy group The Sierra Club, the agreement "marks the beginning and not the end of the work that must be done."

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