Emissions Were Flat for Three Years. Now They're Rising Again

Emissions Were Flat for Three Years. Now They're Rising Again

But researchers predicted yesterday that Carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 would jump by 2 per cent to an all-time high of 41 billion tonnes after the United States and China burned significantly more coal after three years of using less.

Stalled CO2 emissions from 2014 through 2016 - due to better energy efficiency, a boom in renewables, and reduced coal use in China - raised expectations that the world had turned the corner.

In the long term, emissions are unlikely to return to the persistent high growth rates seen during the 2000s of over three per cent per year.

The research was conducted by University of East Anglia and the Global Carbon Project and the findings were published today simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, Earth System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters.

"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.

The results are a disappointment to those who believed that three years without an increase was the start of a global decline in carbon dioxide emissions.

However, experts said that an already hugely ambitious target had been thrown further into doubt with the likely increase in Carbon dioxide emissions this year. It is more likely that emissions will plateau or have slight positive growth, broadly in line with national emission pledges submitted to the Paris Agreement.

"China generates almost 30% of global carbon dioxide emissions, and the ups and downs of the Chinese economy leave a signature on global emissions growth", said Jan Ivar Korsbakken, senior researcher at CICERO and co-author.

Chinese emissions are projected to rise 3.5% (+0.7 to +5.4%) in 2017 (GDP up about 6.8%).

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The report gave credit to India for its "significant government interventions in the economy" that helped it record emission rise of only 2% in 2017.

U.S. emissions were set to decline by 0.4% this year, a smaller fall than in recent years, reflecting a rise in the burning of coal.

"After having more or less no growth for three years, the global Carbon dioxide emission is expected to pop up in 2017 by about 2 per cent to a record high".

China, the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, drove the unexpected and rapid growth of emissions in the 2000's and was behind the unexpected recent slowdown. The increase is largely down to growth in coal-fired electricity generation, and oil and gas consumption in China, the scientists claim.

The Global Carbon Budget is produced by 76 scientists from 57 research institutions in 15 countries working under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project (GCP). The budget took into account the amount of fossil fuels that nations around the world burn.

There was also some good news in the report: In the last decade (2007-2016), emissions in 22 countries (representing 20% of global emissions) decreased even as their economies grew.

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. Technologies like wind and solar power have expanded across the globe by about 14% annually in recent years, according to the report.

"The past three years were quite exceptional in so far as that in the whole record, it's the first time that we saw emissions not growing at the same time as the global economy was growing quite strongly", he said.Worldwide, 21 countries, including the US, Denmark and France, have reduced their Carbon dioxide emissions over the last ten years while achieving economic growth.

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