Carbon emissions on track to rise this year

Pauline Gross
November 17, 2017

The projected jump in the world's greenhouse-gas output underlines the challenges ahead; if the latest analysis proves correct, global carbon-dioxide emissions will reach a record-breaking 41 billion tonnes in 2017.

Both Yang and Myllyvirta expect coal consumption for 2018 to go back into decline, and carbon emissions to correspondingly slow or level off next year. "Time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2 ºC let alone 1.5 ºC".

Earlier, Beijing announced two years ago that 2017 would be the year in which it will roll out a national carbon trading scheme that experts believe will become the largest of its type, eclipsing that of the EU.

"We were not particularly surprised that emissions are up again, but we were surprised at the size of the growth", says Corinne Le Quéré, a climate scientist at UEA and co-author of the work, which was published in the journals Nature Climate Change, Environmental Research Letters and Earth System Science Data Discussions.

"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.

"This is a window into the future". Many climate scientists and policymakers had hoped that the pause in emissions growth represented a shift in energy use that would eventually cause global greenhouse-gas emissions to peak - and then decline.

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CO2 emissions are expected to decline by 0.4 per cent in the U.S. and 0.2 per cent in the European Union, smaller declines than during the previous decade, the report said.

China, the world's biggest source of CO2, has vowed to use "market mechanisms" to help reduce emissions.

Energy experts attributed the rise in China's emissions to a revival of carbon-intensive industries as the country's economy grew faster than expected, but added they expected the growth to be "transient".

The research came out as representatives of almost 200 countries meet in Bonn, Germany, to hash out rules for complying with Paris.

"Chinese energy statistics have been plagued by many inconsistencies, particularly when projecting emissions for the current year", said Korsbakken.

"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".

Other reports by GizPress

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