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2016 was the third year in a row that global carbon emissions remained stable, even as the overall economy grew.

Although 32.1 Gigatonnes of emissions is certainly not good news for future climates, there is some cause for optimism within the numbers, as some major economies saw their emissions drop.

And controlling emissions didn’t come at the expense of the world’s finances, as preliminary estimates show that the global economy grew by over three percent.
The data comes courtesy of the International Energy Agency, which looked at overall trends and broke out the numbers for a few key countries. Overall, renewables were a big story for 2016, meeting half the growth in global demand. Half of that number comes from hydropower.

The world saw the biggest growth in generation from nuclear power since 1993, with six different countries starting up new reactors.
China was one of those countries, starting up five new reactors to increase its nuclear capacity by 25 percent. Nuclear combined with renewables to handle two-thirds of the country’s rising demand.

China also shifted some of its fossil fuel use from coal to natural gas.

The net result was a drop in emissions of about one percent, even as demand grew by over five percent (and the economy grew by nearly seven percent).

Gas still represents a small fraction of China’s energy economy, so there’s the potential for further displacement of coal.
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