Driven By China, Global Carbon Emissions Rise in 2017

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

In the United States, fossil-fuel emissions are projected to fall by approximately 0.4 percent this year, compared to an average decline of 1.2 percent per year over the past decade.

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

"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.

China's emissions, mainly though coal, account for 28 per cent of global emissions.

It looks like carbon dioxide emissions for 2017 will reach 40.8 billion tons after having stabilized at about 40 billion tons in each of the last three years, report scientists.

The increase comes after a period of nearly no growth between 2014 and 2016, according to the Global Carbon Project's Global Carbon Budget 2017 report. 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 lead researcher and director of the University of East Anglia's climate change department, Corinne Le Quere, called the projections "very disappointing".

"With global Carbon dioxide emissions from all human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below two degrees Celsius let alone 1.5 degrees". "We need to reach a peak in global emissions in the next few years and drive emissions down rapidly afterwards to address climate change and limit its impacts", Le Quere said.

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"The use of coal, the main fuel source in China, may rise by three per cent due to stronger growth in industrial production and lower hydropower generation due to less rainfall".

Both Yang and Myllyvirta expect coal consumption for 2018 to go back into decline, and carbon emissions to correspondingly slow or level off next year.

The total emissions figure is a record high, with experts estimating that the global carbon budget will run out in 20 to 30 years. Emissions were up two per cent in India which is the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

The single biggest cause of the rise is an increase in emissions from China, already the world's biggest emitter, which had fallen slightly in recent years. The increase follows three years of flat emissions.

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

"These numbers suggest we still don't have sufficient policies in place to prevent global emissions from rising, let alone to force them downward", said Glen Peters, a researcher at the Center for International Climate Research in Norway, who helped compile the data.

The goal set in Paris was to keep global temperatures from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius.