Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report

An artist in residence (she can afford)

Jun 24, 2019

Latest Episodes

Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Tech
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Make Me Smart with Kai and Molly
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace Morning Report
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Download
HTML Embed
HTML EMBED
Click to Copy
Marketplace

China’s playing a big role in the slowing of global energy use

David Brancaccio Jun 15, 2017
Share Now on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Smoke billows from smokestacks and a coal fired generator at a steel factory in the industrial province of Hebei, China.
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

The global demand for energy just isn’t growing at the same speed it used to. The fossil-fuel giant BP has released a new report about global energy use in 2016, finding that energy consumption increased by 1 percent in 2016, compared to a 10-year average of 1.8 percent a year. 

Part of the reason: China is relying more on renewables and natural gas. BP’s chief economist, Spencer Dale, joined us to talk about changes going on in the world’s second-largest economy, carbon emissions rates, and whether or not the U.S. is helping bring down those emission levels.

Spencer Dale: One of the features of 2016 was that global growth in energy demand is slowing. So we’re still having more demand this year than last year, but the pace of that growth is weak. This is the second or third year where we’ve seen growth significantly weaker than we’ve gotten used to.

David Brancaccio: Who do we thank, or who do we blame? Asia, in parts, right?

Dale: I think this is a “thank” story because this reflects improving efficiency, and a big chunk of this reflects changes going on in China.

Brancaccio: China, again — it’s one of the great stories of the past two or three years, which is as China adjust its economy, its levels of growth are not what they were, say, some years ago.

Dale: Exactly, and I think there’s two or three things going on in China. One is the story you just talked about, which is slower economic growth. It’s also the pattern of that growth is changing away from the industrial sector toward more consumer- and service-facing sectors, which require a lot less energy. And then the third key thing, which is happening in China, is a shift in their fuel mix away from coal toward cleaner, lower-carbon fuels — renewable energy, natural gas, nuclear energy.

Brancaccio: Now at the same time, you found that carbon emissions on the planet Earth haven’t really increased during that period.

Dale: We’ve now seen carbon emissions from energy use be flat or falling for three consecutive years. This is a very significant break from the last 10 years when they were growing at 2.5 percent a year or so. And so the big question this raises for energy industries and for climate and environment, for everybody, is: Is this a decisive break from the past or is this largely a cyclical story?

Brancaccio: Is the U.S. helping at all? I mean, people are buying electric cars. We see a boom in wind power, solar power. Does that count on a global scale?

Dale: Carbon emissions have fallen in outright terms significantly in the U.S. in the last couple of years. And the big story there essentially relates to the U.S. shale gas revolution. So as the U.S. has produced more natural gas, the price of natural gas has fallen. And as the price of natural gas has fallen, that’s allowed gas to gain share particularly within the power sector here relative to coal. And that shift away from coal toward natural gas has led to a very significant reduction in U.S. carbon emissions.

If you’re a member of your local public radio station, we thank you — because your support helps those stations keep programs like Marketplace on the air.  But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.

Your donation — as little as $5 — helps us create more content that matters to you and your community, and to reach more people where they are – whether that’s radio, podcasts or online.

When you contribute directly to Marketplace, you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.