Global CO2 emissions forecast to rise

Exxon Mobils refinery in Louisiana

While carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel and industry in China are expected to rise about 3.5 per cent, after about two years of economic slowdown, India's contribution to the atmospheric build-up would go up by almost 2 per cent, the researchers have found.

But the publication by the Global Carbon Project (GCP) of its annual analysis of trends in the global carbon cycle, the authors say, highlights how precarious the recent slowdown in global emissions growth really is.

"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 favoring more powerful storms".

The research reveals that global emissions from all human activities will reach 41 billion tonnes in 2017, following a projected 2% rise in burning fossil fuels.

Worldwide, "we are probably in the level-to-upwards direction for emissions in the next years rather than level or downwards", Peters said, because of stronger global gross domestic product (GDP) growth. "This is a window into the future", Le Quéré said.

Carbon emissions had been roughly flat from 2014-16, but will increase this year mainly due to a rise in China after a two-year decline, the scientists said.

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The research was conducted by University of East Anglia and the Global Carbon Project and the findings were published today simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, Earth System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters.

"The global economy is picking up slowly", said Robert Jackson, a co-author of the report and co-chair of Global Carbon Project.

A team of 76 scientists from 57 institutions in 15 countries working under the umbrella of the Global Carbon Project said despite the growth in 2017, it is too early to say whether this is a one-off event on the way to a global peak in emissions, or the beginning of a new period with upward pressure on the growth of global emissions. "As [gross domestic product] rises, we produce more goods, which, by design, produces more emissions".

The increase comes just weeks after the United Nation's announced that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide hit a record-high in 2018, and compounds the urgency for the Bonn climate conference, where nations are set to hammer out the details for implementing the Paris climate agreement.

It also serves as fodder for supports of the 2015 Paris agreement, who say it shows that countries need to stick to their pledges and continue to ratchet up their commitments. This stable period, following a growth in emissions of more than 3% annually in the 2000s, fed hopes that many countries were succeeding in separating successful economy-building from increases in world temperatures.

USA emissions are projected to decline by 0.4% this year, more slowly than the decline of 1.2% per year averaged over the last decade because of a return to growth in coal use. One bright spot was a large drop in the growth rate of India's emissions (from 6% a year to 2%), though it is most likely temporary. "Coal needs to be rapidly phased out of the global energy mix, while renewables must be ramped up far quicker", he added.

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