Global clean energy progress stalled: Report

Equipment used for the extraction of natural gas is viewed at a hydraulic fracturing site on June 19, 2012 in South Montrose, Pennsylvania.

The U.S is using and spewing less carbon these days. Chalk it up to better car mileage, energy efficiency, and the fracking boom. We burn more natural gas for electricity, and less dirty coal.

"However, that is still pretty much a U.S. phenomenon," says Markus Wrake with the International Energy Agency.

The IEA’s new report shows that globally, the carbon inside every unit of energy produced is virtually unchanged from 20 years ago. One reason: The natural gas revolution has yet to go global.

"Whereas we in the United States do see a lot of coal to gas switching, in fact in Europe we see a lot of the opposite," says Wrake.

Coal use in Europe has gone up lately, as well as emerging economies, like China and India.

"It’s safe to say that energy demand is growing fastest in the countries that can least afford renewables," says Kevin Book with Clear View Energy. "So what they are using primarily is coal."

The IEA says without more action, global temperatures are on track to rise at least two degrees Celsius.

 

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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