greenhouse gas emissions

Carbon emissions to rise by 2 per cent in 2017, dashing hopes that ‘peak carbon’ had been reached

Image credit: dt

Carbon emissions are predicted to increase by around 2 per cent this year, resuming growth following a period of stagnation between the years 2014-2016.

The increase will set a new record and scientists have largely blamed it on a rise in emissions from China after the country managed reductions for the previous two years.

The data, released by the Global Carbon Project (GCP), was presented during negotiations among almost 200 nations in Germany about details of the 2015 Paris Agreement climate accord.

“Emissions from fossil fuels and industry comprise ~90 per cent of all CO2 emissions from human activities,” the GCP, a collaborative body formed of 76 scientists in 15 countries, wrote in its findings.

“For the last three years, such emissions were stable, despite continuing growth in the global economy.

“Many positive trends contributed to this unique hiatus, including reduced coal use in China and elsewhere, continuing gains in energy efficiency, and a boom in low-carbon renewables such as wind and solar.”

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

“Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again ... This is very disappointing,” said lead researcher Corinne Le Quere.

This trend is concerning, especially in light of the fact that the five warmest years of average global temperatures have all occurred since 2010, and 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have come since 2000. This year is on track to be the second warmest year after last year's peak.

Glen Peters, another leader of the study at the CICERO Center for International Climate Research in Oslo, said China’s emissions were set to rise 3.5 per cent, driven by more coal demand amid stronger economic growth.

China, the top greenhouse gas emitter ahead of the United States, accounts for almost 30 per cent of world emissions.

US emissions were set to decline by 0.4 per cent in 2017, a smaller fall than in recent years, also reflecting more burning of coal.

Coal’s gains were linked to a rise in the price of natural gas that made coal more attractive in power plants rather than the effects of US President Donald Trump’s pro-coal policies. Trump is also planning to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement. 

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