BBC News is reporting that, according to the Global Carbon Project, CO2 emissions are projected to rise in 2017 for the first time in four years. The main cause is attributed to increased coal use in China as their economy expands.
“Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period. This is very disappointing,” said Professor Corinne Le Quéré. “With global CO2 emissions from human activities estimated at 41 billion tonnes for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below 2 degrees C, let alone 1.5C.”
Professor Corinne Le Quéré from the University of East Anglia is the lead author of the report. The Global Carbon Project, which has been analysing CO2 emissions since 2006, confirms that carbon output has grown by about 3% per year in that period, but growth essentially declined or remained flat between 2014 and 2016. There was hope that we had finally reached the peak.
The most important element in causing this rise has been China, which is responsible for around 28% of the global total.
Another important factor in China has been lower water levels in rivers which have seen a drop in the amount of electricity made from hydro-power, with utilities turning to coal and gas to make up the shortfall.
US emissions have continued to decline but the fall has been less than expected. Higher prices saw a drop in the use of natural gas for electricity – with renewables and hydro-power picking up the slack.
Coal use has also grown slightly in the US this year, with consumption up about a half of one percent.
Europe and India also saw lower than expected declines.
“The climate will not let us wait until 2020 when the Paris agreement comes into force,” said Nicaragua’s chief negotiator, Paul Oquist.
“Climate change is happening now and it’s vital that immediate actions to cut emissions become a feature of this summit.”
Indeed, climate change scientists warn that we need to reach a global CO2 peak before 2020 to avoid catastrophic global warming in this century.