Carbon emissions on track to rise this year

13 November, 2017, 18:39 | Author: Eloise Marshall
  • The jammed streets of London at rush hour reveal a poor way of organising society

The carbon dioxide emissions that drive global warming, flat since 2014, are set to rise two percent this year, dashing hopes they had peaked, scientists reported at United Nations climate talks Monday.

"We should already be reducing global emissions so they can reach zero in time to keep climate change under control", said Corinne Le Quéré, professor of climate change science and policy at the University of East Anglia and the main study's lead author.

These startling facts came to light in the 2017 Global Carbon Budget was published by the Global Carbon Project in journals Nature Climate Change, Environmental Research Letters and Earth System Science Data Discussions.

"With global Carbon dioxide emissions from all human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below two degrees Celsius let alone 1.5 degrees".

Pep Canadell, a geoscientist at Australia's CSIRO and head of the Global Carbon Project that produces the carbon budget report each year, says that the findings are disappointing.

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

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.

This is mainly because of increased emissions from China, which is witnessing a spurt in industrial growth, a multinational team of researchers said on Monday.

Study co-author Glen Peters, fro the Cicero Centre for International Climate Research in Oslo, says that China's emissions were set to rise by 3.5%, driven by more demand for coal amid stronger economic growth.

"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.

The US is expected to see a slower decline in its carbon emissions, from an annual 1.2% drop over the past 10 years to a decrease of 0.4% this year, with a return to growth in coal use, as president Donald Trump promised to rescue the coal industry.

Renewable energy took some of the credit for the countries who managed to curb their carbon dioxide emissions while growing their economies.

India's emissions are expected to grow at a relatively lesser pace than in the previous decade. Robert Jackson, however, noted that there were several factors which point to a continued rise in 2018. Similarly, the European Union emissions are expected to decline by 0.2% in 2017 when this group of 28 nations would collectively record 2.3% increase in their GDP.

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.

"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. The budget took into account the amount of fossil fuels that nations around the world burn. Future Earth executive director Amy Luers described the news as a "giant leap backward for humankind".

This year's rebound in emissions suggests that it's too soon to celebrate.

Professor Le Quéré said: "The Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement will occur every five years, and this puts enormous pressure on the scientific community to develop methods and perform measurements that can truly verify changes in emissions within this five-yearly cycle".

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