Global carbon emissions set to rise again after falling flat

Minister of Lands Jean Kapata at COP23 in Bonn

Minister of Lands Jean Kapata at COP23 in Bonn

"Global carbon dioxide emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period", Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, and lead researcher for the Global Carbon Budget, said in a press statement.

Carbon dioxide emissions are set to rise this year after a three-year pause, scientists said on Monday at United Nations climate talks, warning that "time is running out", even as White House officials used the occasion to champion the fossil fuels that drive global warming.

The rise in China's emissions is caused by greater coal consumption following fresh stimulus to infrastructure, concentrated in the steel and cement sectors, found the study by Global Carbon Project.

Emissions from the United States and European Union are projected to decline 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

The annual report released Monday by the Global Carbon Project provides fuel to environmentalists to argue that the slowdown in emissions growth was more of a fluke than the start of a pattern.

"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 favoring more powerful storms". This is a window into the future.

The Paris Climate Agreement targets would require steep emissions cuts ASAP, compared to current trends.

In 2017, Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry are projected to grow by 2 per cent (0.8 per cent to 3 per cent). This follows three years of almost no growth (2014-2016). But emissions for the rest of the globe - which, in total, are even larger than China's - will rise by close to 2 percent, according to the projection.

Global CO2 emissions from all human activities are set to reach 41 billion tonnes by the end of 2017.

"We've been lucky in the last three years with emissions being flat without any real policy driving it", Peters said. 2 and 3 carbon emitters, are continuing their decade-long decline in 2017 but at a reduced pace, the report said.

Coal's gains were linked to a rise in the price of natural gas that made coal more attractive in power plants, Peters told Reuters, rather than the effects of U.S. President Donald Trump's pro-coal policies.

While growth in coal consumption is similar to the previous two years at about 3 per cent, oil consumption growth has stalled, at less than 1 per cent, and cement production has dropped sharply, by more than 6 per cent through to August.

"China can continue to play a leading role in the global climate debate, despite this short-term increase of emissions, which is temporary", he said.

The report by the Global Carbon Project team dashed hopes that emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas had peaked. In the United States, some of that decline is likely due to a slowdown in the use of natural gas, but some is also due to the fact that coal use is projected to increase for the first time in five years.

As with much of science, there is no immediate and conclusive conclusion from these new results.

That is expected to help avoid more than 10 million metric tons of emissions.

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