Global emissions set to rise again in 2017, after three years
After years of promise, we’re going backwards on greenhouse gases.
Global carbon dioxide emissions are expected to rise by 2 percent in 2017, following a flat line between 2014 and 2016.
These results come from researchers at the Global Carbon Project, showing an unexpected increase in emissions from the world’s top carbon emitter, China. It seems complacency from governments is a lot to blame, in missing our climate goals.
“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, the report’s co-author, said in a statement.
China’s influence on emissions
China’s emissions contributes nearly a third of the world’s total emissions, and was a key factor in the rise. When emissions flatlined for three years, it was the result of the country’s reduced economic growth.
In 2017, China is projected to increase its emissions by 3.5 percent. It’s been hungrier for coal, oil and natural gas, due to increases in industrial production and economic growth.
To make matters worse, hydro power generation was down due to lower rainfall, while solar, wind and nuclear growth was not quick enough to make up the shortfall.
However, China is capping its winter coal use and industrial growth is slowing, potentially curbing emissions growth towards the end of the year.
The U.S., which is the world’s second biggest emitter, is projected to have a decline in emissions at 0.4 percent, a smaller decrease compared to the previous decade (1.2 percent each year).
This year is expected to be the first time in five years that coal consumption will increase (by 0.5 percent) in the country.
India’s emissions are expected to rise by 2 percent, much less than the 6 percent per year it averaged over the last decade, while the European Union’s emissions is set to decline by 0.2 percent — compared to an average 2.2 percent drop each year over the last decade.
Veering off Paris targets
While it’s unclear if the increase in emissions is a one-off or return to growth, this latest news is a setback in achieving targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement.
In 2015, countries agreed to cut emissions enough to limit global warming to under 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels.
Earth’s carbon dioxide concentrations is projected to increase by 2.5 parts per million in 2017, which is higher than the growth rate over the last decade. It adds to the record of 403.3 parts per million set in 2016, and obviously doesn’t bode well for reducing Earth’s temperature.
There have been sustained warnings that the next decade will prove critical to humanity’s future, and it’s clear nations around the world are resting on their laurels when it comes to climate.