Global carbon emissions to rise 2% in 2017: scientists

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018

Chinese industrial growth seen behind increase; Indian emissions growth to dip

After being flat for three years, global carbon emissions from human activities are slated to grow 2 per cent to 41 billion tonnes this year. This is mainly because of increased emissions from China, which is witnessing a spurt in industrial growth, a multinational team of researchers said on Monday.

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 nearly 2 per cent, the researchers have found.

In the US and EU, on the other hand, emissions came down by 0.4 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. They grew 1.9 per cent in the rest of world.

India’s emissions are expected to grow at a relatively lesser pace than in the previous decade. While annual emissions from India grew 6 per cent in the previous decade, the increase this year is expected to be only 2 per cent, perhaps due to a slowdown in industrial activity following demonetisation.

The scientists published the report simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, East System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters on Monday.

Oslo climate talks

“After having more or less no growth for three years, the global CO2 emission is expected to pop up in 2017 by about 2 per cent to a record high. This demonstrates that we cannot be complacent that the emissions would stay flat,” Glen P Peters, Center for International Climate Research in Oslo (CICERO), said at a press conference in Bonn, where the current round of climate talks are under way.

The emissions were actually growing at a slower rate since 2010, and there was hardly any increase in the last three years, giving hopes that the warming could be contained to less than 2°C, he said. The increase in emissions this year, however, may upset the calculations. “This would essentially mean that we need to have policies to lock in the gains we have had in the last few years,” Peters said.

He attributed the global increase largely to growth in Chinese emissions.

“Global CO2 emissions appear to be going up strongly once again after a three-year stable period. This is very disappointing,” said Corrine Le Quéré, Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia, who was also present at the press conference.

“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 2ºC, let alone 1.5ºC, she said.

Land-use change emissions in 2017, on other hand, would be very similar to that in 2016, the scientists wrote in Nature Climate Change journal.

Published on November 13, 2017

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