Lower carbon emissions in 2011
Last week, it was reported that emissions for the EU trading system fell by 2.6% in 2011, mainly die to the weak downturn. But the real news was in Germany. Not only did the German economy keep growing strongly, but the country also managed to shut down 40 percent of its nuclear capacity without increasing carbon emissions.
Last March, when Germany decided to keep eight of its nuclear power plants off-line, there were concerns that Germany would use coal power and natural gas to replace nuclear power, which is low in carbon emissions. As Renewables International pointed out, Germany has far overshot its target in the Kyoto Protocol, so it actually has the right to increase its carbon emissions – but it didn't.
On April 2, the country's Environmental Agency announced that the country's CO2 emissions fell by nearly 1 percent from 452.8 to 450 million tons. This performance is especially impressive in light of the 3.6 percent economic growth posted in 2011.
The experts over at Point Carbon explained in their analysis published last week (behind a paywall) that the expectation that Germany would replace nuclear with coal power is "likely one of the reasons why several analysts erred when forecasting a significant increase in Power [sic] and heat emissions, instead of a decrease.” In their review of EU 27+ Norway, they remain skeptical of the near-term success of emissions trading, stating that "EU ETS is fundamentally oversupplied" and that "the ETS does not fulfil its mission to spur a transformation into a low carbon economy."
As Renewables International has repeatedly reported, emissions trading is an unreliable source of funding for renewables. At present, prices remain so low that trading has come to a halt on some markets, such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Germany currently provides the best example of how to combine economic growth with the switch to a low-carbon energy supply: use feed-in tariffs to deploy renewables. (Craig Morris)