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Carbon Emissions Set to Rise in 2017

13 November 2017

Even though researchers may start to detect a change in emission trends early, it may take as much as 10 years to confidently and independently verify a sustained change in emissions using measurements of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

"Global carbon dioxide emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period". The CO2 resurgence was caused mostly by China, which saw a rise in coal, oil, and gas use this year.

The report comes as 197 nations are meeting in Bonn in Germany for the annual United Nations climate negotiations, this one being COP-23.

"This is very disappointing", said Corinne Le Quere, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia and lead author of a major study detailing the findings.

"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 favouring more powerful storms".

The bottom line, say experts, is that the global economy is not shifting quickly enough from fossil fuels to low- or zero-carbon energy.

China, the largest national polluter, is responsible for 28 percent of the total.

The top five carbon emitters are China, the U.S., India, Russia and Japan.

USA emissions are projected to decline by 0.4% this year, more slowly than the decline of 1.2% per year averaged over the last decade because of a return to growth in coal use. American coal consumption is expected to rise for the first time in five years, by about 0.5 percent.

The Global Carbon Budget report, produced by a team of 77 scientists from 57 organisations around the world, brings together the most accurate information available each year about humanity's carbon output.

The studies aren't devoid of positive news.

"Global commitments made in Paris in 2015 to reduce emissions are still not being matched by actions", said CICERO's Glen Peters. Emission rates are not expected to return to those observed in the 2000s, when developing nations rapidly industrialized.

The research comes as negotiators at United Nations climate talks in Bonn, Germany, work on a rulebook for implementing the Paris climate agreement.

It's no secret where Carbon dioxide heads once it leaves a smokestack or tailpipe.

"The world is still reducing its emissions intensity by about 1.5% a year", he says, referring to the amount of Carbon dioxide emitted per dollar of GDP. The apparently smooth global rise of CO2 every year veils a turbulent and unpredictable planetary carbon cycle.

Oceans and forests combined absorbed over half of the Carbon dioxide emissions from human activity, with the rest staying in the atmosphere, the study showed. It noted that this year's emission rise would follow three years of almost no growth in emissions.

Understanding the Earth's "carbon budget" is the Global Climate Project's mission. Those from all human activities (fossil fuels, industry, and land-use change) will reach around 41bn tonnes, similar to the record high in 2015.

GCP is sponsored by Future Earth and the World Climate Research Programme. Nations supportive of the pact, which includes all but the US, need more advanced tools and practices to measure their own progress, or lack thereof, and to gauge how ongoing pollution is changing the composition of the entire biosphere.

"Several factors point to a continued rise in 2018", said Robert Jackson, a co-author of the report, co-chair of GCP and a professor in Earth system science at Stanford University.

"Nothing short of deep and rapid decarbonization", they state, in the terse, scientific-journal equivalent of a full-throated scream, "will keep the Earth from surpassing the 1.5 degree Celsius average temperature threshold in as little as a decade, and 2 degree Celsius a few decades after that".

Carbon Emissions Set to Rise in 2017