Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Carbon emissions up, 'time is running out,' warn scientists

Carbon emissions up, 'time is running out,' warn scientists

"Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period".

"Human-induced warming has accelerated over the past few years despite the slowdown in carbon dioxide emissions because of other drivers of climate change, notably methane", said Myles Allen, a professor at the University of Oxford, commenting on the findings.

He attributed the global increase largely to growth in Chinese emissions.

While carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel and industry in China are expected to rise about 3.5 per cent, after about two years of economic slowdown, India's contribution to the atmospheric build-up would go up by almost 2 per cent, the researchers have found.

The landmark Paris Agreement from 2015, now literally signed by every nation in the world except the US under Trump's Administration, aims to limit warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius past the average recorded at the start of the industrial revolution.

"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. China had decreased its emissions two years in row prior to 2017, but coal use may rise by 3 percent as a result of increased industrial production and lower hydro-power generation due to less rainfall.

"China's engagement and contributions to combat climate change is itself an inestimable value for global community", he said, adding that without China's efforts, the Paris Agreement would not have been possible.

Indian emissions are expected to grow by 2 percent in 2017, but that is in comparison to increases of 6 percent per year over the past decade. What's more, deforestation and other changes in land use are expected to add another 4 billion metric tons of Carbon dioxide, rounding off the total number of Carbon dioxide emissions for 2017 to 41 billion metric tons.

"Even though we project carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry to increase 2% in 2017, large uncertainties persist, and growth [rates] between 1% and 3% are distinct possibilities given difficulties in making projections".

Jackson said the team - which produces these reports every year in November - has confidence in its 2017 report because it is based on real data from top polluting nations through the summer and in some cases through October. China, the top greenhouse gas emitter ahead of the United States, accounts for nearly 30 percent of world emissions.

Even though overall Carbon dioxide emissions have been relatively flat from 2014 to 2016, atmospheric concentrations saw a record increase in 2015 and 2016 (blue bars) due to El Niño conditions.

In an interview with The Guardian, Corinne Le Quéré, the director of a climate change research program at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, called the results of the report "very disappointing".

USA emissions are expected to decline by.4 percent, compared to a typical decline in the country of about 1.2 percent per year.

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. European emissions are expected to decline by.2 percent, which is also lower than the average decline of 2.2 percent per year. It estimates that 37 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide will be emitted from burning fossil fuels, the highest total so far.

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