World carbon dioxide emissions stopped growing in 2019, after two years of increases, the International Energy Agency says.
Global emissions stood at 33.3 gigatonnes, with a sharp decline in the amount of emissions from advanced economies making up for a continuing increase in developing countries.
Declining use of coal for electricity generation was the driving factor in emissions reductions in wealthy countries, assisted by milder weather in several countries, the Paris-based agency said.
In the European Union emissions fell by 5.0 per cent, thanks to increased use of renewable energy sources and a switch from coal to gas.
Germany led the way with an 8.0-per-cent reduction.
The United States, with a 2.9-per-cent reduction, produced total carbon dioxide emissions of 4.8 gigatonnes – down almost 1 gigatonne from their peak in 2000.
Japan also registered a 4.0-per-cent decline, aided by increasing output from reopened nuclear power plants that had been shut down after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Demand for coal continued to grow in Asia, however, which was responsible for almost 80 per cent of the 400-megatonne increase in carbon emissions from developing economies.
The agency singled out South-East Asia as having particularly strong emissions growth.
“We now need to work hard to make sure that 2019 is remembered as a definitive peak in global emissions, not just another pause in growth,” said IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol.
“We have the energy technologies to do this and we have to make use of them all.