Carbon Emissions Set to Rise in 2017

Gladys Abbott
November 14, 2017

Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry, the bulk of man-made greenhouse gases, were on track to gain 2 percent in 2017 from 2016 levels to a record high of about 37 billion tonnes, it said.

The research reveals that global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tonnes in 2017, following a projected 2% rise in burning fossil fuels.

"The slowdown in emissions growth from 2014 to 2016 was always a delicate balance, and the likely 2% increase in 2017 clearly demonstrates that we can't take the recent slowdown for granted", said Robbie Andrew, a senior researcher at CICERO, the Centre for International Climate Research in Oslo, and co-author of the studies.

CO2 emissions decreased in the presence of growing economic activity in 22 countries representing 20 per cent of global emissions.

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This year "might well prove a small blip on an otherwise flattening emissions curve", he said.

The projected 2% increase in carbon dioxide emissions comes from growth in China's smokestack industries and jeopardises the Paris climate agreement goals, say experts.

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In the paper published in Environmental Research Letters, the researchers said the three-year pause in emissions growth was due to an increased uptake of renewable-energy technologies and a reduction in China's coal consumption. "The use of coal, the main fuel source in China, may rise by 3% due to stronger growth in industrial production and lower hydro-power generation due to less rainfall".

"Global commitments made in Paris in 2015 to reduce emissions are still not being matched by actions", said Glen Peters, a research director at Cicero who led one of the studies.

The US and European Union are however expected to see a decline of 0.4% and 0.2% - but they are smaller declines than during the previous decade. "It is far too early to proclaim that we have turned a corner and started the journey towards zero emissions".

¨"The plateau of past year was not peak emissions after all", the Global Carbon Project, a group of 76 scientists in 15 countries, wrote of the findings. India will, however, report lesser emissions growth (2%) while the country is expected to record nearly same GDP growth (6.7%) during the period.

The GCP is a collaboration between worldwide science organisations to monitor global carbon emissions and their sources in order to help "slow the rate of increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere". They're projected to rise 2% in 2017, compared to 6% a year averaged over the previous decade, due to significant government interventions in the economy, according to the report. They grew 1.9 per cent in the rest of world.

But as the Trump administration continues to push fossil fuel use at home and overseas, the Global Carbon Budget's scientists warn that the world is running out of time to tackle climate change.

"Policy makers in Bonn are preparing for the Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement, that will start in 2018 and occur every five years, and this puts huge pressure on the scientific community to develop methods and perform measurements that can truly verify changes in emissions within this five-yearly cycle", Prof Le Quere added.

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