April 22, 2018

Global carbon pollution rises after 3 straight flat years

13 November 2017, 07:40 | Lena Norman

Driven By China, Global Carbon Emissions Rise in 2017

Carbon emissions back on the rise

Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry will reach around 37 billion tonnes in 2017, the analysis says, a record high. The news follows three years of emissions staying relatively flat.

After being flat for three years, global carbon emissions from human activities are slated to grow 2 per cent to 41 billion tonnes this year.

"By continuing to cause this inexorable rise in Carbon dioxide we are pushing the climate closer and closer to the edge of our comfort zone", said Professor Richard Betts, of the University of Exeter and the Met Office Hadley Centre.

The report authors noted large uncertainties in the data persist and the true growth figure may be anywhere between 1 and 3%.

Every world leader - with the notable exception from Donald Trump - have pledged to limit climate change to "well below 2C". In 101 countries, emissions increased as GDP increased.

While carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel and industry in China are expected to rise about 3.5 per cent, after about two years of economic slowdown, India's contribution to the atmospheric build-up would go up by almost 2 per cent, the researchers have found.

Building on a report from 25 years ago which forecast that if we carried on disregarding the planet's resources it would cause "vast human misery", the update concluded that most of the threats outlined "are getting far worse". Industrial emissions in the United States are projected to fall by only 0.4 percent in 2017, compared to the 1.2 percent year-to-year average for the last decade. What's more, deforestation and other changes in land use are expected to add another 4 billion metric tons of Carbon dioxide, rounding off the total number of Carbon dioxide emissions for 2017 to 41 billion metric tons. But emissions for the rest of the globe - which, in total, are even larger than China's - will rise by close to 2 percent, according to the projection.

Dr Glen Peters of the Centre for International Climate Research in Oslo said, "The growth in 2017 emissions is unwelcome news, but it is too early to say whether it is a one-off event on a way to a global peak in emissions, or the start of a new period with upward pressure on global emissions growth". Declines in the United States (0.4 percent) and Europe (0.2 percent) were smaller than previous years. European emissions are expected to decline by.2 percent, which is also lower than the average decline of 2.2 percent per year.

There are also rising emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that is a stronger and faster warming agent, although not almost as long-lived in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

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Scientists at the Global Carbon Budget attribute this year's increase to a record-high burning of fossil fuels around the world, especially in countries like China and India, which have failed to curb fossil fuel use as quickly as predicted.

"This year we have seen how climate change can amplify the impacts of hurricanes with stronger downpours of rain, higher sea levels and warmer ocean conditions favoring more powerful storms".

The Global Carbon Budget also noted that cumulative carbon emissions include readings from the atmosphere, on land and in the water.

GCP is sponsored by Future Earth and the World Climate Research Programme. In each case, stores of emissions, known as natural sinks, grew in the years 2007 to 2016 in response to increased man-made emissions.

Solar and wind energy have grown 14 percent annually since 2012, but still only account for a tiny fraction―less than four percent―of global energy consumption. But President Trump said in June that he would pull the United States out of the pact as soon as he can, which is 2020.

"The federal government can slow the development of renewables and low-carbon technologies, but it can't stop it", Jackson said. And there's no denying that renewables are continuing to grow around the world - making it hard to know quite what to make of the current emissions rise.

"Global commitments made in Paris to reduce emissions are still not being matched by actions", said Peters.

For example, numerous countries represented in Bonn have been resisting making more stringent emissions cuts than they had promised just a few years ago. It will help scientific community to develop methods and perform measurements that can verify changes in national emissions within the five-yearly cycle.

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