Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Global emissions set to rise in 2017 after three years, scientists warn

Global emissions set to rise in 2017 after three years, scientists warn

The annual report released Monday by the Global Carbon Project provides fuel to environmentalists to argue that the slowdown in emissions growth was more of a fluke than the start of a pattern.

Yang Fuqiang, senior adviser for the NRDC China Program, said the eventual carbon emissions of 2017 could be lower than forecast, as authorities have put on a large-scale production curb on industries such as steel and cement to combat air pollution during winter months. Emissions were up two per cent in India which is the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

The finding, issued by an global team of scientists, comes as diplomats in Bonn this week etch details into the 2015 United Nations Paris climate agreement.

Budget co-author Glen Peters, research director at CICERO in Oslo, who led one of the studies, said: "The return to growth in global emissions in 2017 is largely due to a return to growth in Chinese emissions, projected to grow by 3.5% in 2017 after two years with declining emissions".

Lead researcher Prof Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, said: "Global carbon dioxide emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period".

"With global Carbon dioxide emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2ºC, let alone 1.5ºC, she said". This is a window into the future.

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.

"Several factors point to a continued rise in 2018", warned Robert Jackson, another co-author of the report, co-chair of Global Carbon Project and a professor in earth systems science at Stanford University.

Carbon makes up only.04 percent of the atmosphere but is a powerful heat-trapping gas and is the dominant cause of the rise in global temperatures. The US emissions are projected to decline by 0.4% this year when its GDP will grow by about 2.2%.

In that context, the Budget report noted that emissions of 101 countries, representing 50% of global emissions, increased in the presence of growing GDP.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), meanwhile, released a report Monday showing that climate change now imperils one in four natural World Heritage sites, including coral reefs, glaciers, and wetlands - almost double the number from just three years ago.

In the United States and European Union, on the other hand, emissions came down by 0.4 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.

Emissions from fossil fuels and industry will reach around 37 billion tonnes carbon dioxide in 2017.

India's emissions are also projected to increase by 2% this year, in line with the country's GDP growth.

India's emissions are expected to grow at a relatively lesser pace than in the previous decade.

Solar and wind energy have grown 14 percent annually since 2012, but still only account for a tiny fraction - less than four percent - of global energy consumption.

Demonstrators dressed as Donald Trump and as a polar bear are seen during a demonstration in Bonn against the COP 23 UN Climate Change Conference hosted by Fiji but held in Bonn, Germany November 11, 2017. "Coal needs to be rapidly phased out of the global energy mix, while renewables must be ramped up far quicker", he added.

He added that it was too early to be confident about the precise figure for China, which may range between 0.7 and 5.4% emissions growth.

Professor Le Quéré said: "The Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement will occur every five years, and this puts huge 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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