Monday, 20 November, 2017

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

Carbon emissions back on the rise Global carbon pollution rises after 3 straight flat years
Frank Williams | 13 November, 2017, 18:23

"Every year that goes by without an emissions peak", Mr. Peters said, makes the job of cutting greenhouse gases quickly enough to stabilize global warming this century "that much harder".

In a series of three papers, the Global Carbon Project's 2017 report card assesses changes in Earth's sources and sinks of CO₂, both natural and human-induced. While annual emissions from India grew 6 per cent in the previous decade, the increase this year is expected to be only 2 per cent, perhaps due to a slowdown in industrial activity following demonetisation. The budget, which refers to the amount of carbon we can release into the atmosphere before we exceed climate change targets, has been determined by the Global Carbon Project.

After three years of nearly zero growth in global carbon dioxide emissions, it had been hoped that the world was finally on a path to preventing the worst effects of climate change.

"The 2015/2016 El Niño caused hot and dry conditions in the tropics that reduced the uptake of carbon by forests and led to a record rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations", said Professor Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre at the University of East Anglia, UK, who led the main analysis.

"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", she said.

"The slowdown in emissions growth from 2014 to 2016 was always a delicate balance, and the likely 2 percent increase in 2017 clearly demonstrates that we can't take the recent slowdown for granted", Robbie Andrew, a co-author of the study and a senior researcher at Norway's CICERO Center for International Climate Research, said in a statement. A number of central and northern European countries and the United States have shown how it is indeed possible to grow an economy while reducing emissions. More ambitious action is required so that, hopefully, we might see emissions peak in 2018, instead of rising again.

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.

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The jump in carbon emissions that drive global warming is a "giant leap backwards for humankind", according to Amy Luers, executive director of Future Earth, a global research initiative.

"With global Carbon dioxide emissions from all human activities estimated at 41 billion (metric tonnes) for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below two degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius", she said in a statement. Those from all human activities (fossil fuels, industry, and land-use change) will reach around 41bn tonnes, similar to the record high in 2015.

The United States' and European Union's emissions are projected to decline only by 0.4% and 0.2% respectively.

There is also some good news.

Flat emissions in recent years were particularly remarkable because they were accompanied by worldwide economic growth. "This demonstrates that we can not be complacent that the emissions would stay flat", Glen P Peters, Center for International Climate Research in Oslo (CICERO), said at a press conference in Bonn, where the current round of climate talks are under way.

These are continuing to rise as a outcome of warming driven by ever higher greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, in response to the profligate global consumption of fossil fuels.

Renewable energy has increased rapidly at 14% per year over the last five years - albeit from a low base.

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