Chinese coal fuels rise in global carbon emissions

Nov 17, 2017, 01:16
Chinese coal fuels rise in global carbon emissions

After being stable for three consecutive years, carbon dioxide emissions are up in 2017, reports an global team of scientists.

It was previously hoped that emissions might soon reach their peak after three stable years, so the new projection for 2017 is an unwelcome message for policy makers and delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn, taking place this week.

Countries that signed on to the Paris Agreement in 2015 set a goal of limiting the increase in world temperatures from pre-industrial times to two degrees Celsius.

"The slowdown in emissions growth from 2014 to 2016 was always a delicate balance, and the likely 2 percent increase in 2017 clearly demonstrates that we can't take the recent slowdown for granted", Robbie Andrew, a co-author of the study and a senior researcher at Norway's CICERO Center for International Climate Research, said in a statement.

Humanity's carbon emissions are likely to surge by 2% in 2017, driven mainly by an uptick in coal consumption in China, scientists reported on 13 November.

The US is expected to see a slower decline in its carbon emissions, from an annual 1.2% drop over the past 10 years to a decrease of 0.4% this year, with a return to growth in coal use, as president Donald Trump promised to rescue the coal industry. Still, the report estimates that US carbon emissions will likely fall this year by 0.4 percent - despite the Trump administration's policies favoring fossil fuels over renewable energy. On Monday - the same day that the Global Carbon Budget was released - the official United States delegation held a talk about the benefits of coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy in response to climate change.

But as the Trump administration continues to push fossil fuel use at home and overseas, the Global Carbon Budget's scientists warn that the world is running out of time to tackle climate change.

The event's focus on coal and nuclear mirrors a push by the Trump administration - through a rule proposed by the Department of Energy - to pay power plants that maintain a supply of at least 90 day's worth of fuel on site.

But as the Trump administration continues to push fossil fuel use at home and overseas, the Global Carbon Budget's scientists warn that the world is running out of time to tackle climate change.

"We do not know if the increase in emissions in 2017 is a one-off, or represents changes leading to more sustained upward pressure on emissions in the years ahead". To Le Quéré, the question now is whether 2017 is a temporary blip or a return to business as usual.

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