Surprise - CO2 Emissons Stalled in 2014 Just As Global Demand for Needless Crap Declined

The recent International Energy Agency [IEA] announcement that "energy-related carbon dioxide emissions flatlined globally in 2014, while the world economy grew" is surprising at first glance The IEA reports that this marks “the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.”
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First off, i'm very glad that energy-related global CO2 emissions have stalled. However one of the largest portions of CO2 emissions stall came from replacing coal with gas in China and other developing countries. As the proportion gas replacing coal that's derived from fracking is unclear and growing by leaps and bounds in could very well be 'cold comfort'. The stall in CO2 might very well be negated by increases in the far more dangerous fugitve methane emissions escaping from the fracking industries as numerous peer reviewed studies have proven that fugitive methane emissions make fracked gas dirtier than coal.

Other contributors to the CO2 'stall' are the increase in alternatives like wind and solar which is encouraging, especially if those industries, though still having a large fossil fuel footprint embedded in their production, are local and smaller scale which suits their widely distributed sources thereby eliminating the attendant destruction and losses built into the grid and transmission expansions that would be necessary if any of these alternatives were expected to replace other baseline sources instead of as supplements to them.

Another important factor that groups who trumpet the wonders alternative energy's Green Illusions overlooks is the global deflationary picture which has cut into discretionary spending by consumers everywhere [including yesterday's post]. This reduction in consumer demand, especially for needless crap, has driven down the extraction, consumption and price of all commodities including fossil fuels necessary to produce and ship the crap.

Hopefully the effects of these combined changes are a type of 'tipping point' that shows how small but broad changes can lead to systemic change. IMO the CO2 stall is good news because it shows that we can all live another way, that small changes can have big effects and that we can have growth in the quality of our lives while consuming less.

Slow steady deflation is currently the largest driver of degrowth globally though in other cases local factors may overshadow it. Deflation itself has many drivers including things like personal debt wherein even the most addticted consumer often finds it nearly imposible to borrow more while living in a car.

The world, including humans, can live well without all the needless crap...but neither Gaia or any of our cousins can live well [or maybe even live al all] if consumers and their enablers keep it up. Many things have changed in my time as upright mud, including my ideas many times. But as Timothy Leary once said, "You're only as young as the last time you changed your mind."