Carbon emissions forecast to hit record levels this year

The Global Carbon Project says carbon dioxide emissions resumed growth in 2017 and peak ‘not yet in sight’.

    Global emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide have risen substantially and are expected to hit record levels this year, scientists have projected in a new report.

    After three years of almost no growth, carbon emissions from fossil fuels and industry are expected to increase by 2.7 percent in 2018, according to an annual report by the Global Carbon Project, an international scientific collaboration of academics, governments and industry that tracks emissions of greenhouse gases.

    The release of the report on Wednesday comes as envoys from nearly 200 nations meet in Poland for the United Nations’ annual climate change conference to discuss implementation of the Paris Agreement.

    Curbing carbon emissions is the single most important pledge of the historic 2015 agreement, which aims to combat climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century to between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees Celsius.

    The World Meteorological Organization said last week that 2018 was “on course to be the fourth warmest year on record” and pointed out that the 20 warmest years on record have all occurred within the past 22 years.

    According to Wednesday’s report, the world is producing 37.1 bn metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, up from 36.2 bn metric tonnes in 2017. The margin of error is about one percentage point on either side.

    China produced 27 percent of global emissions last year, followed by the United States with 15 percent, the European Union with 10 percent and India at seven percent.

    Fossil fuel emissions are estimated to grow this year by 4.7 percent in China, 6.3 percent in India and 2.5 percent in the US and decrease by 0.7 percent in the EU.

    Action needed

    Scientists said the calculations put some of the Paris Agreement’s goals nearly out of reach

    Andrew Jones of Climate Interactive, which models greenhouse gas emissions and temperatures but was not part of the research, said “this is terrible news”.

    Jens Mattias Clausen, Greenpeace’s climate change adviser, said the report underlined the urgent need for action.

    “There’s a lot of politicians who talk about all these things that they want to do, and all the long-term goals and all the strategies that they have, but in terms of action, we’re just not seeing it,” Clausen told the Associated Press news agency on the sidelines of the talks in Poland’s Katowice.

    “So that’s basically what we are asking them to do, just actually be a leader, not just a politician.”

    The report said that China’s emissions increased with the rise in coal use, which accounts for about 60 percent of the country’s total energy consumption and for 40 percent of climate change linked to greenhouse gas emissions.

    The emission growth in the US was driven partly by weather, while India’s emissions have continued to rise in line with a booming economy.

    The US has pledged to pull out of the Paris agreement, but is unlikely to be able to do so before 2020.

    Other industrialised nations, including China, have vowed to implement the deal taking into account their national circumstances.

    The Global Carbon Project also warned that despite reaching the highest levels on record, carbon dioxide emissions would probably keep increasing as economies continued to expand.

    “The peak in global emissions is not yet in sight,” it said.

    Counting the Cost

    Big oil and climate change

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