Global carbon emissions to rise again in 2017

With a target of cutting emissions by about 202 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 through blending petrol with ethanol a sugarcane-derived fuel Zimbabwe has made some progress

With a target of cutting emissions by about 202 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030 through blending petrol with ethanol a sugarcane-derived fuel Zimbabwe has made some progress

Every world leader - with the notable exception from Donald Trump - have pledged to limit climate change to "well below 2C".

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

However, in 101 countries (representing 50% of global emissions) emissions increased in the presence of growing GDP.

These are continuing to rise as a outcome of warming driven by ever higher greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, in response to the profligate global consumption of fossil fuels.

All of this might be an unwelcome message for policy makers and delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn this week.

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. Budget co-author Glen Peters, research director at CICERO in Oslo, who led one of the studies, said: "The return to growth in global emissions in 2017 is largely due to a return to growth in Chinese emissions, projected to grow by 3.5% in 2017 after two years with declining emissions".

But the GCP, a global research project within the Future Earth research initiative on global sustainability, says that while emissions may prove to have risen by 2% in 2017, it is not possible to say whether this is a return to growth, or a one-off increase. India will, however, report lesser emissions growth (2%) while the country is expected to record nearly same GDP growth (6.7%) during the period. It is again a key driver in 2017.

The group, which helped organize three research groups in concert to come to the conclusions, attributed the carbon growth - likely to be 2 percent year-over-year - to increasing emissions in China and developing nations from burning fossil fuels, aligning with economic growth.

Chinese emissions went down about 1% in 2015 and were flat in 2016, but are projected to increase between 0.7% and 5.4% in 2017, with a best estimate using preliminary data of 3.5% in 2017. European emissions are expected to decline by.2 percent, which is also lower than the average decline of 2.2 percent per year.

Though India too is expected to record an increase (by 2%) in its carbon emission this year, the country's emission rise is much less as compared to its 6% per year average increase over the previous decade.

US emissions are projected to decline 0.4% (-2.7% to +1.9%) in 2017, lower than the decline of 1.2% per year averaged over the previous decade, with an unexpected rise in coal consumption (GDP up about 2.2% in 2017).

By the end of 2017, global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and industry are projected to rise by about 2% compared with the preceding year, with an uncertainty range between 0.8% and 3%.

Yang Fuqiang, senior adviser for the NRDC China Program, said the eventual carbon emissions of 2017 could be lower than forecast, as authorities have put on a large-scale production curb on industries such as steel and cement to combat air pollution during winter months.

"By continuing to cause this inexorable rise in Carbon dioxide we are pushing the climate closer and closer to the edge of our comfort zone", said Professor Richard Betts, of the University of Exeter and the Met Office Hadley Centre.

It could take as long as 10 years for scientists to confidently verify a sustained change in emissions using measurements of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

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