Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Carbon emissions to reach new highs this year

Carbon dioxide emissions have started rising again after a three year pause Carbon dioxide emissions have started rising again after a three year pause. Miguel Navarr Getty Images
Marlene Weaver | 13 November, 2017, 19:42

In 21 countries comprising a fifth of global carbon pollution, CO2 emissions are clearly on the decline despite economic growth. This led to a flood of optimism that at long last, greenhouse gas emissions were peaking and would finally start declining. Emissions were up two per cent in India which is the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

US emissions are projected to decline 0.4% (-2.7% to +1.9%) in 2017, lower than the decline of 1.2% per year averaged over the previous decade, with an unexpected rise in coal consumption (GDP up about 2.2% in 2017).

The bottom line message of the report is a sobering one.

The landmark Paris Agreement from 2015, now literally signed by every nation in the world except the U.S. 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.

We're pushing the climate gas pedal while politicians are barely pumping the brakes.

"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".

But this requires emissions not just to stay flat but to go down - rapidly.

BONN―The carbon dioxide emissions that drive global warming, flat since 2014, are set to rise two percent this year, dashing hopes they had peaked, scientists reported at United Nations climate talks Monday.

"With global carbon dioxide emissions from all human activities estimated at 41 billion tons for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius", said Le Quéré. On Monday - the same day that the Global Carbon Budget was released - the official United States delegation held a talk about the benefits of coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy in response to climate change.

Peters says the flat emissions between 2014 and 2016 were largely due to luck, rather than the result of policies. "That really has to happen in a lot of countries".

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The new findings will be immediately relevant to the proceedings in Bonn, since one part of the agenda involves laying the groundwork for a "facilitative dialogue" to take place next year, in which countries will take a hard look at where their emissions are, and where they need to be, to live up to the Paris goals.

You may be thinking, "Hey, wait a minute, what about the rapid pace of adding renewables, like wind and solar power?" "That transition is being driven by the low cost of new renewable infrastructure, and it's being driven by new consumer preferences".

The increase comes just weeks after the United Nation's announced that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide hit a record-high in 2018, and compounds the urgency for the Bonn climate conference, where nations are set to hammer out the details for implementing the Paris climate agreement.

What's mainly driving this upward trend in greenhouse gas emissions is China, which pledged under the Paris Agreement to peak emissions by around 2030 and to get 20 percent of its energy from non-fossil sources.

After being stable for three consecutive years, carbon dioxide emissions are up in 2017, reports an worldwide team of scientists.

"Global commitments made in Paris to reduce emissions are still not being matched by actions", said Peters. "It is far too early to proclaim that we have turned a corner and started the journey towards zero emissions".

"The 2017 emissions data make it crystal clear that urgent and very serious emissions reductions are needed to stop global warming below 2 degrees C, as was unanimously agreed in Paris", Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said in an email.

Indian emissions are projected to grow 2% (+0.2% to +3.8%) in 2017, compared to 6% per year averaged over the previous decade, due to significant government interventions in the economy (GDP up 6.7%).

Rahmstorf said there are now about 600 billion remaining tons of carbon dioxide that can be emitted if the world is to have a good chance of keeping warming considerably below 2 degrees Celsius, and with some 40 billion tons of emissions each year, that leaves just 15 years.

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