Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Global Carbon Emissions Reach Highest Level in Recorded History

Global Carbon Emissions Reach Highest Level in Recorded History

In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent.

Lead researcher Corinne Le Quéré, Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at UEA, said in a statement: "We are seeing a strong growth of global Carbon dioxide emissions once again".

"A robust global economy, insufficient emission reductions in developed countries, and a need for increased energy use in developing countries where per capita emissions remain far below those of wealthier nations will continue to put upward pressure on Carbon dioxide emissions".

Published in the journals Nature, Environmental Research Letters, and Earth Systems Science Data GCP, the study concludes that the increase in emissions has been largely driven by projected growth in major economies such as China, the U.S., and India. The researchers said wind and solar energy are growing fast but from a low base. "Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption".

A single degree of warming to date has seen a rise in deadly heatwaves, droughts, floods, and superstorms made worse by rising seas. Before 2018, American emissions had been in decline for several years (although, some of that dip was a function of the USA outsourcing its carbon footprint to other countries).

Compiled by Imperial College London, the rankings assess 25 countries' performance on curbing fossil fuel use, deploying clean power capacity, electric vehicle uptake, carbon storage capacity, and energy efficiency.

Niwa atmosphere-ocean scientist Dr Sara Mikaloff-Fletcher said the world needed to be reducing emissions quite aggressively if it was to keep the temperature rise below 1.5C.

The uncertainty range for the 2.7% increase is 1.8 to 3.7%.

Annual global carbon emissions will reach an all-time high this year, according to the Global Carbon Budget annual report released Wednesday. "That could mean a lot more oil consumption, a lot more natural gas consumption".

The researchers said global carbon dioxide emissions have China's carbon emissions account for 27% of the global total and have increased an estimated 4.7% in 2018.

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In the United States, emissions appear to be up 2.5 percent this year - although, there is some reason to think that that spike might be the aberrant result of an unusually cold winter in some parts of the country, and an unusually hot summer in others.

India, the third-highest contributor, is projected to see emissions rise by 6.3% from 2017.

Emissions declined by 0.7 percent in the 28-nation European Union, though emissions from oil increased.

Some scientists expressed frustration with the pace of change.

"According to IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change), to limit warming well below 2 degree Celsius, CO2 emissions should decline by about 20 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero around 2075; to limit warming below 1.5 degree Celsius, CO2 emissions should decline by 50 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero by around 2050..."

"It's time to grow up and smell the coffee".

The latest estimates from leading experts also indicate that the value of health gains from climate action would be approximately double the cost of mitigation policies at global level, and the benefit-to-cost ratio is even higher in countries such as China and India.

Guterres named climate change as "the most important issue we face".

Coupled with Wednesday's findings, that drumbeat of daunting news has cast a considerable pall over the worldwide climate talks in Poland, which began this week and are scheduled to run through December 14.

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