Global carbon pollution rises after 3 straight flat years

Global carbon pollution rises after 3 straight flat years

Global carbon pollution rises after 3 straight flat years

Global carbon dioxide emissions are rising again, ending hopes that pollution had reached a peak.

"The news that emissions are rising after a three-year hiatus is a giant leap backward for humankind", said Amy Luers, a climate policy advisor to Barack Obama and executive director of Future Earth, which co-sponsored the research.

During the three-year emissions "plateau" - and specifically in 2015-16 - the accumulation of CO₂ in the atmosphere grew at a record high that had not previously been observed in the half-century for which measurements exist.

Scientists say that a global peak in Carbon dioxide before 2020 is needed to limit unsafe global warming this century.

The organization was founded in 2001 to quantify global carbon emissions and headquartered in Canberra, Australia.

In 2017, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to grow by 2% (0.8% to 3%). The increase follows three years of flat emissions.

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"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.

The Global Carbon Budget, now in its 12th year, brings together scientists and climate data from around the world to develop the most complete picture available of global greenhouse gas emissions.

As the world's biggest emitter China's projected 3.5% increase is a big contributor to the global trend.

The remaining countries' emissions, representing about 40% of the global total, are expected to increase around 2.3% (+0.5% to +4%) in 2017.

"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. This is the result of higher energy demand, particularly from the industrial sector, along with a decline in hydro power use because of below-average rainfall.

The GCP expects India's emissions to rise by 2%, much lower than the 6% per year averaged over the previous decade, because of significant government interventions in the economy. There are now 22 countries, for example, for which CO₂ emissions have declined over the past decade while their economies have continued to grow.

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The EU has now had three years (including 2017) with little or no decline in emissions, as declines in coal consumption have been offset by growth in oil and gas. "And that is quite worrisome".

The announcement comes as nations meet in Bonn, Germany, for the annual United Nations climate negotiations (COP23).

Researchers involved with the study say they are not moving fast enough.

A team of 76 scientists from 57 institutions in 15 countries working under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project said despite the growth in 2017, it is too early to say whether this is a one-off event on the way to a global peak in emissions, or the beginning of a new period with upward pressure on the growth of global emissions.

The report is sure to increase tensions in Bonn between developed and developing nations.

Professor Le Quéré said: "The Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement will occur every five years, and this puts enormous pressure on the scientific community to develop methods and perform measurements that can truly verify changes in emissions within this five-yearly cycle". However, Stern adds, it is "vital" that all countries ramp up their emissions pledges and that richer countries support action across the world.

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