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Carbon emissions up, 'time is running out,' warn scientists

14 November 2017
Carbon emissions up, 'time is running out,' warn scientists

"Chinese energy statistics have been plagued by many inconsistencies, particularly when projecting emissions for the current year", said Korsbakken.

The rest of the world's emissions-representing 40 percent of the global total-are expected to increase by 2.3 percent.

These are continuing to rise as a outcome of warming driven by ever higher greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, in response to the profligate global consumption of fossil fuels.

As the world's biggest emitter China's projected 3.5% increase is a big contributor to the global trend.

Demonstrators dressed as Donald Trump and as a polar bear are seen during a demonstration in Bonn against the COP 23 UN Climate Change Conference hosted by Fiji but held in Bonn, Germany November 11, 2017.

"The use of coal, the main fuel source in China, may rise by three per cent due to stronger growth in industrial production and lower hydropower generation due to less rainfall".

In the USA and European Union, on the other hand, emissions came down by 0.4 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively.

Scientists have sounded the alarm after researchers warned unexpectedly that carbon dioxide emissions look set to hit record levels this year - at a time when they need to be reducing sharply.

"China generates almost 30% of global carbon dioxide emissions, and the ups and downs of the Chinese economy leave a signature on global emissions growth", said Jan Ivar Korsbakken, senior researcher at Cicero and co-author. "It is far too early to proclaim that we have turned a corner and started the journey towards zero emissions".

Study co-author Glen Peters, fro the Cicero Centre for International Climate Research in Oslo, says that China's emissions were set to rise by 3.5%, driven by more demand for coal amid stronger economic growth. 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. It is again a key driver in 2017.

Dr Stephen Cornelius, WWF's chief adviser on Climate Change, added: "This increase is deeply worrying for our planet after three years of no growth".

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.

The research, published simultaneously in the journals Nature Climate Change, Earth System Science Data Discussions and Environmental Research Letters, shows that Carbon dioxide emissions are expected to decline by 0.4 per cent in the United States and 0.2 per cent in the European Union. It estimates that 37 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide will be emitted from burning fossil fuels, the highest total so far.

The level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen about two percent in 2017 according to climate scientists, dashing hopes that the world had already seen the highest emission levels from the coal, oil, and gas industries.

"Policy makers in Bonn are preparing for the Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement, that will start in 2018 and occur every five years, and this puts enormous pressure on the scientific community to develop methods and perform measurements that can truly verify changes in emissions within this five-yearly cycle", Prof Le Quere added.