Global CO2 emissions rise for the first time in four years

'Time is running out on our ability to keep warming below two degrees celcius' says lead researcher

(Photo: Inside Climate News)
(Photo: Inside Climate News)

By the close of 2017, the global CO2 emissions, generated by fossil fuels and industries are projected to rise by two percent compared to 2016, according to the Global Carbon Project’s annual report published on Monday.

This is the first time emissions of greenhouse gases have risen after remaining relatively stable for the last three years, according to the “2017 Carbon Budget”, which was presented at the COP23 climate change conference in Bonn, Germany.

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 CO2 emissions from all human activities estimated at 41 billion (metric tonnes) for 2017, time is running out on our ability to keep warming well below two degrees Celsius, let alone 1.5 degrees Celsius”, she said in a statement.

The study noted that a majority of the 41 billion metric tons (45.2 billion US tonnes) of global CO2 emissions stem from industry and fossil fuel-use, which are estimated to reach 37 billion metric tons (40.8 billion US tonnes.)

The total emissions figure is a record high, with experts estimating that the global carbon budget will run out in 20 to 30 years. The budget, which refers to the amount of carbon we can release into the atmosphere before we exceed climate change targets, has been determined by the Global Carbon Project.

"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 favouring more powerful storms," Le Quere said, urging for more to be done in the next few years to drive down emissions in order to limit the impacts of climate change.

"This is a window into the future," she said.

China accounts for 28% of global emissions in 2017, the report said. The country's emissions are predicted to rise by 3.5% this year compared to 2016.

India's emissions are also projected to increase by 2% this year, in line with the country's GDP growth.

Carbon dioxide emissions in Europe and the US, on the other hand, are on track to be lower in 2017 than in the previous year, down by 0.2%and 0.4% respectively.

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