Global carbon emissions to rise 2% in 2017: scientists

Andrew Cummings
November 13, 2017

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industry and fossil fuels are projected to rise by 2 percent this year, researchers said Monday.

With its use of coal increasing, China's emissions were projected to rise by 3.5 percent.

This is important because climate change is related to the total level of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. "As GDP rises, we produce more goods, which, by design, produces more emissions", said Robert Jackson, a co-author of the report and professor in earth system science at Stanford University. "This demonstrates that we can not be complacent that the emissions would stay flat", Glen P Peters, Center for International Climate Research in Oslo (CICERO), said at a press conference in Bonn, where the current round of climate talks are under way.

But the publication by the Global Carbon Project (GCP) of its annual analysis of trends in the global carbon cycle, the authors say, highlights how precarious the recent slowdown in global emissions growth really is.

But the GCP, a global research project within the Future Earth research initiative on global sustainability, says that while emissions may prove to have risen by 2% in 2017, it is not possible to say whether this is a return to growth, or a one-off increase. While dozens of nations, including the United States, have been reducing their emissions in recent years, those declines have so far been offset by rising pollution from developing countries. They said, "It is more likely that emissions will plateau or have slight positive growth, broadly in line with national emission pledges submitted to the Paris Agreement".

The GCP, a collaboration between worldwide science organisations, aims to monitor global carbon emissions and their sources in order to help "slow the rate of increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere".

Chinese emissions are projected to rise 3.5% (+0.7 to +5.4%) in 2017 (GDP up about 6.8%).

European emissions are tentatively expected to decline by 0.2% (-2% to +1.6%) in 2017, lower than the decline of 2.2% per year averaged over the previous decade (GDP up about 2.3%).

Continuing the streak of sad news, atmospheric Carbon dioxide concentration reached 403 parts per million in 2016, and is expected to increase by 2.5 parts per million in 2017. The increase is largely down to growth in coal-fired electricity generation, and oil and gas consumption in China, the scientists claim.

US emissions are expected to decline by.4 percent, compared to a typical decline in the country of about 1.2 percent per year.

The Global Carbon Budget is produced by 76 scientists from 57 research institutions in 15 countries working under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project (GCP). In each case, stores of emissions, known as natural sinks, grew in the years 2007 to 2016 in response to increased man-made emissions.

"There was a big push to sign the Paris agreement on climate change but there is a feeling that not very much has happened since, a bit of slackening", she continues.

Technologies like wind and solar power have expanded across the globe by about 14 per cent annually in recent years, according to the report.

"The past three years were quite exceptional in so far as that in the whole record, it's the first time that we saw emissions not growing at the same time as the global economy was growing quite strongly", he said.Worldwide, 21 countries, including the US, Denmark and France, have reduced their Carbon dioxide emissions over the last ten years while achieving economic growth.

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