The peak is nigh…or is it ?

Since 2007, the government of The Netherlands -a small but densely populated and strongly industrialised country in north-western Europe- by virtue of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA) or Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving (PBL) in Dutch, has been annually releasing data on global trends in CO2 emissions. In the beginning, the NEAA/PBL issued no actual report, but merely provided processed data on their website, accompanied by explanations and interpretations in Dutch. However, from 2008 onwards, the NEAA/PBL also offered supporting texts in English, while since 2010 it is possible to download full reports (in English) in PDF format. The newest report was just released, and reports on the data from the year 2016. Strikingly, it appears that global CO2 emissions have stabilised in the period 2015-2016. This may indicate that the so-called Peak Emissions (the point after which emissions start to drop) may be in sight.

Peak Emissions are a sign that the de-carbonisation of our society is actually happening. It means that the measures being taken by politicians, consumers and industry are actually taking effect. It does not mean that we are not emitting CO2 anymore, because we are. Some 35 billion tons all in all, over 2016 alone. The leading independent British daily newspaper The Guardian also picked up on the Dutch report and published a very accessible article on it. Peak Emissions are of course always determined in hindsight, but it certainly marks the possible beginning of a hopeful trend.

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