Saturday, 18 November, 2017

Worldwide fossil fuel burning to hit record high in 2017

Exxon Mobils refinery in Louisiana Exxon Mobil's refinery in Louisiana
Juana Turner | 14 November, 2017, 00:46

"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.

China was is being pointed to as the main culprit, with projected fossil fuel emissions growth of 3.5 per cent.

Global Carbon Project (GCP) executive director and report co-author Dr Pep Canadell said the increase is likely to be about 2 per cent on 2016 levels.

US emissions were set to decline by 0.4 percent in 2017, a smaller fall than in recent years, also reflecting more burning of coal.

The research also says that coal use in China and the USA are expected to increase this year.

The researchers said there are uncertainties in our ability to estimate emissions changes - Glen Peters of the CICERO Center for International Climate Research and lead author on a study said it could take up to 10 years to independently verify a change in emissions based on measurements of Carbon dioxide atmospheric concentrations.

But, the Global Carbon Budget notes, it's not just China that is fueling the increase - both the United States and Europe, the second and third top emitters respectively, both reduced their emissions more slowly than in past years. "This is a window into the future", Le Quéré said.

The report authors noted large uncertainties in the data persist and the true growth figure may be anywhere between 1 and 3%.

After remaining flat for three years, experts had hoped that greenhouse gas emissions had peaked and would soon begin to fall. The US emissions are projected to decline by 0.4% this year when its GDP will grow by about 2.2%. Meanwhile emissions from fossil fuels are set to reach 37 Gt CO2 - a record high.

European Union emissions are tentatively projected to decline -0.2% (-2% to +1.6%), a smaller decline than the previous decade (GDP up 2.3%).

From 2014 to 2016 global Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry grew hardly at all.

Atmospheric CO2 concentration reached 403 parts per million in 2016, and is expected to increase by 2.5 ppm in 2017.

This year "might well prove a small blip on an otherwise flattening emissions curve", he said.

However, there is one good news and that is renewable energy has increased rapidly at 14% per year over the last five years.

They say the growth in 2017 is mainly due to stronger emissions growth in China and other developing countries, and their findings show that the Paris goals could quickly slip out of reach.

"The world is still reducing its emissions intensity by about 1.5% a year", he says, referring to the amount of Carbon dioxide emitted per dollar of GDP.

"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.

"Policy makers in Bonn are preparing for the Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement, that will start in 2018 and occur every five years, and this puts vast pressure on the scientific community to develop methods and perform measurements that can truly verify changes in emissions within this five-yearly cycle", said Prof Le Quéré.

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